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First Word 

By Arthur Miller 

Is beauty in 
the eye of the beholder — 

or only in the 

minds of lawmakers and 


who judge art on the 

basis of 

content and not quality? 

A Pulitzer prize- 
winner puts the future 
of free 
expression in perspective. 



By Keith Ferrell 
Science can be glorious 

if we give our children's 

teachers the 
freedom to be creative. 



The Who's Who 

of contributing authors 



The 1991 
Great Treasure Hunt 

Will you make 

a withdrawal from our 

cache machine? 

In the world of limitless, 

nonpolluiing energy, (here will be time to reflect 

on beauty. Artist Mei Odom captures 

that quality of peaceful-. reflection in this month's, cove 

The PerfumGd Garden. The work 

combines pencils, dyes, and gouache to create 

a tranquil unity, a vision of a future 

toward whose restfulness we can aspire. 



By Gregory T Pope 

Mapping electronic traffic 

in the brain 

demonstrates how far 

. Al must evolve 

before it can replicate 

brain functions. 



By James Oberg 
The Soviets claim their 

shuttle ejection 
system will save lives. 

The problem: 

Convincing the rest of 

the world. 



By Mary Glucksman 


the limbless a new 


in their prosthetic feet 

will also aid 

paraplegics, diabetics, 

and : others, 



By Beth Howard 
When they're not feeling 

up to par, chimps 

raid nature's medicine 

cabinet. Now 

they're sharing their 

secrets with us, 

OMNI !!E3N 0Vi9-6; 
1990 by Omni Publk 
0760 V DiKTibuted ir 
AFO— E24 one yea 




The future of education 

in Czechoslovakia; 
zero-gravity dentistry; 

the southpaw 
revolution; intelligent 

clothes; safe 

sex of the simulated 

kind; armpits 

tor the sake of science; 

and more. 


A Poison 
In Every Caldron 

By W. E. Gutman 

Dangerous toxins: 

With nations 

continuing to develop 

and chemical weapons, 

here's our 

assessment of the 

arsenal and 

how it will shape 

the future 

of war and peace. 

Plus: A global 

guide to who has chemical 



Volatile Vacuum 

By Owen Davies 


Unlimited, free energy 


our cities and homes; 


more powerful than 

the human 

brain; cardboard-thin 


Zero- point energy 

could turn 
physics on its head. 



- ■ ' . ^t w 

^£ 4 

n^^f^MP 1 


f0^ : : v--' : 


Fiction: Dream Cargoes 

By J. G. Ballard 
After the world 

abandons the Prospero, 

the ship 

runs aground off 

island where its toxic 1 

have a strange and 

effect on the ecology. 


Pictorial: The 
Mathematical Gardener 

By Sandy Fritz 

The formulas used in the 

creation of these 

graphic flowers could 

be the basis 

of ihe mathematical rules 

that govern 

the development of 

plant life 
around the world. 


By Bill Moseley 
In the mid- 
Seventies, Bruce Ames 
initiated the 
hunt for man-made 


Today he advocates 

eating produce 

sprayed with pesticides. 

Plus, opinions 

from several of his 

leading detractors. 


Fiction: Peter 

By Pat Murphy 

Now all grown up, 

Wendy and 

the boys wait for their 


who promised to return 

every spring. 



Child abuse, near-death 

and alien abductions: Is 

there a link? 

Budd Hopkins versus 

mental health 
professionals; skeptics 

and their 

horoscopes; reptilian 



Star Tech 

Techno-tools of tomorrow 


Video Games 

By Bob Lindstrom 

The best 
games of the year 



By Scot Morris 
Try these cockeyed 

then 'create your own 

mixed-up drinks 
in Competition #52. 


Last Word 

By Helen McKenna 


This gutter guru will 

divine the 

future by reading your 

car's oil spills. 



With Congress debating obscenity in federally'funded 

art, what will happen to free expression? 

Arthur Miller, 



The National Endowment for the 
Arts (NEA) has provided some 
85,000 grants over the past 25 
years. Three or four have been con- 
troversial. Not a bad record. 

Last year on July 16, as a one- 
day lobbyist for the Authors 
League of America. I met with a 
group of conservative senators 
and congressmen in Washington, 
DC. I tried to convince them that 
the issue was not smutty pictures 
but whether our government 
should get into the business of lay- 
ing down rules for socially good 
and bad art. Even Plaio gave up 
trying to do this, but it will have a 
deathless fascination for political 
leaders to the end of time. 

I read a couple of paragraphs 
to the legislators from In Russia, 
a book I wrote in 1965. 1 doubted 
many lobbyists did literary read- 
ings for congressmen, so I figured 
I might get their attention. 

In Moscow, while interviewing 
a tough Soviet Writers' Union ap- 
paratchik, I cautiously hinted that 
a little more freedom from gov- 
ernment interference might ben- 
efit Soviet art. He replied sternly: 
"You mean we should spend the 

people's money publishing the por- 
nography I have seen on your 
newsstands, books which interest 
young people in drug addiction, 
plays which espouse homosexu- 
ality, paintings which even your 
awn critics admit are made only 
for publicity and money? All this 
you are telling me will be an im- 
provement for Russia? We do not 
'consider that an improvement." 
A senator from a Western 
state, as soon as he caught the 
gist of this conversation, took on 
a wryly fascinated look, and for a 
short moment I thought I had a con- 
vert. And so I added that the So- 
viets in censoring art were unques- 
tionably being political censors, 
so why was it different when we 
did the same thing? It took a mo- 
ment for him to rally from the damn- 
ing comparison: "There is a dif- 
ference," he finally stated, "be- 
cause the Russians control the en- 
tire production of art, while we are 
only interested in the tiny part of 
it that the government under- 
writes." He looked relieved, if not 
surprised, to have come up with 
this dubious escape, but I wasn't 
sure how deeply it really con- 
vinced him. Unfortunately, I 
wasn't thinking fast enough to ask 
whether, if the government did un- 
derwrite all or most American art, 
would he still favor censoring it. 
Another senator was embar- 
rassed by the irony of a Soviet iron- 
pants 25 years ago saying precise- 
ly what fundamentalism says to- 
day about censoring art. But cu- 
riously enough, he added that he 
had seen a play of mine, The Arch- 
bishop's Ceiling, a few years 
back and thought it an "amazing 
metaphor" for the internal spying 
going on in the world, not exclud- 
ing America now and then, and 
for our relationship to power itself. 
I thought this was his way of tell- 
ing me he was indeed troubled by 
the NEA issue, but that people 
were really worked up about the 
NEA and their feelings simply 
could not be ignored. 

It became clear to me that we 
were all Jesse Helms's prisoners. 
None of the senators or congress- 
men referred to their own reac- 
tions to this alleged pornographic 
art but to "their feelings"— that is, 
the people sending in millions of 
boilerplate postcards organized 
by fundamentalist groups. 

In talking to congressmen it 
seemed ironic that by attempting 
to purify minority art, the kind that 
aspires to seriousness, we will 
leave the field more thoroughly 
cleared for the non-governmental- 
ly funded mass junk — the videos, 
movies, and girlie magazines, 
and yes, a lot of the TV advertis- 
ing — on which this country verita- 
bly floats. Of course, nobody is ev- 
er going to attempt to purify low 
art, no doubt for the good demo- 
cratic reason that no politician is 
crazy enough to mess with the re- 
al high-stench garbagethat amus- 
es most voters. 

It has all gotten twisted. One 
well-meaning liberal congress- 
man, a supporter of the NEA, 
penned new language authoriz- 
ing the NEA to prohibit funding of 
works that "deliberately denigrate 
the cultural heritage of the United 
States, its religious traditions, or 
racial or ethnic groups." 

Now we are into religion and cul- 
ture and race, areas where Con- 
gress clearly has no right to leg- 
islate, but this only illustrates 
where this whole far-Right cam- 
paign is dragging us — straight in- 
to political censorship. No wonder 
Plato would not let artists into his 
ideal society — there was just no 
easy way to keep them in line. 

And there still isn't. Not in a de- 
mocracy. And Congress ought to 
give up trying to kid itself— laying 
down orthodox lines of taste in mat- 
ters of art means censorship. 
There isn't a graceful way around 
this. Let Jesse Helms get elected 
on an Issue that doesn't matter 
this much to the good name of the 
United States, still the freest so- 
ciety in the world. DO 



at the mention ot science, but with an enlightened 

approach we can recapture students' curiosity 

Inquiring minds 

know: Children's 

curiosity is 

insatiable, but 

from the 

earliest grades 


are prodded to 


rather than 

ask why. 

An entire generation of students 
is losing interest in science and 
scientific careers. Although we 
hear constantly of the competitive 
and national security consequenc- 
es of this decline, science educa- 
tion continues to plummet. 

In Science; The Glorious Enter- 
tainment, Jacques Barzun ruminat- 
ed on-the place of science in our 
intellectual lives. A quarter centu- 
ry after its publication, the book 
remains thought provoking and 
worthwhile. In its title, we find a 
clue to our schools' dilemma in sci- 
ence-education and the key to 
challenging kids' natural curiosity. 

Preparation for a scientific ca- 
reer is not the purpose of ele- 
mentary and high-school science 
classes. Even in the most scien- 
tifically enlightened times, most stu- 
dents do not become scientists. 
They do, however, possess the 
ability to learn about science and 
to carry that learning throughout 
their lives. And an understanding 
of science and the scientific proc- 
ess is one that will serve an in- 
dividual well, whatever profession- 
al path he pursues. 

You don't have to be a particle 
physicist to be curious and in- 
formed about the nature of mat- 
ter. Few frontiers are expanding 

as dramatically as those in biolo- 
gy, yet most students express lit- 
tle interest in the fundamental 
processes of life. The history of 
science is filled with individuals 
and events as dramatic as any hu- 
man endeavor, yet those individ- 
uals and events are all but invisi- 
ble to kids. 

Science test scores are declin- 
ing. Yet those very test scores are 
at the heart of the problem. From 
the earliest grades, students are 
prodded to perform rather than in- 
quire, to get good marks rather 
than grasp ideas, to recite rather 
than reflect. SAT and other stan- 
dardized scores count for far 
more in the minds of most stu- 
dents—and the minds of too 
many school administrators — 
than comprehension. 

The mentality that drives the 
overwhelming emphasis on stan- 
dardized test performance is the 
same one that hampers and ham- 
strings our science teachers. The 
architecture of too many school 
systems rests upon compartmen- 
talization, curriculum guidelines 
that assign so many weeks to phys- 
ics, so many to chemistry, and so 
on. In the upper grades, students 
elect a scientific discipline for a 
semester or two, then move on, 
forgetting the facts. 

It doesn't have to be this way. 
Young children have that scien- 
tific cast of mind that asks, con- 
stantly, why and how. They want 
to learn, and for a time their curi- 
osity is insatiable. Our education- 
al process, however, seems de- 
signed to squelch that curiosity 
and replace it with drudgery. 

This is not, as a rule, the teach- 
ers' fault. They work long hours for 
low pay, their own excitement and 
energy sapped by the compart- 
mentalizers. Many science teach- 
ers find themselves locked into 
■dull, bland textbooks, required to 
march through a set number of 
pages on a predetermined sched- 
ule, with little opportunity to inno- 
vate, to communicate, to educate. 

Those same teachers know 
that science is a process of ask- 
ing questions, but those ques- 
tions need to be placed in a con- 
text. That context needs to extend 
beyond the covers of state-select- 
ed texts, must extend, in fact, as 
far as the partnership between 
teacher and student can go. And 
the context must spark students' 
imaginations by showing how sci- 
ence touches their lives. 

Broadcaster and geneticist 
David Suzuki once made a bold 
suggestion: Since teenagers 
tend to have sex on their minds, 
build high-school science cours- 
es around biology, specifically 
around sex and sexuality. From 
this admittedly interesting starting 
point, science teachers could 
move throughout all of the scien- 
tific disciplines — holding on to stu- 
dents' interest all the while. 

Other inherently interesting con- 
texts offer opportunities: space, 
athletics, the environment, the in- 
formation revolution. You could 
build a broad science course 
from the lives of scientists. One 
can envision science courses con- 
structed around the physics of vid- 
eo games, television, the arts, 
even science magazines like Om- 
ni. Teachers have theirown, doubt- 
less better ideas. 

H. G. Wells pointed out that civ- 
ilization is engaged in a race be- 
tween education and catastro- 
phe. Today catastrophe seems to 
be winning, at least in science ed- 
ucation. To reverse the trend re- 
quires a large effort by individ- 
uals, corporations, publications — 
one that will repay us a thousand- 
fold, and more quickly than we 
might imagine. 

Science is entertaining, and at 
its best, that entertainment is glori- 
ous. The-challenge is to liberate 
our teachers from artificial re- 
straints that arbitrarily measure ac- 
complishment, freeing them to 
show students the glorious enter- 
tainment that can be found in 
science. — Keith FerrellDQ 



We journey into a vacuum, traipsing through a field of 

pesticides and a mathematical garden 

The applications of zero 
point energy are astound- 
ing — from computers 
and television to powering our cit- 
ies, homes, and cars. Owen Da- 
vies ("Volatile Vacuum," page 50) 
reports on research tapping the 
properties of a vacuum — or, as 
some scientists call it, the tranquil 
void — to produce limitless ener- 
gy. "If this technology were imple- 
mented, the oil-producing coun- 
tries would have no hold on any- 
body," Davies says. "What good 
is oil, other than as a lubricant and 
chemical feedstock, if you don't 
need to burn it for energy?" Da- 
vies looks at future political and 
economic changes in Crystal 


this month 


clockwise from 


Beth Howard, 

Gregory T. Pope, 

Mary Glucksman, 

James Oberg. 

Globe: The Haves and the Have 
Nots in the New World Order(St. 
Martin's Press, June 1991), coau- 
thored with futurist Marvin Cetron. 

In "A Poison in Every Caldron" 
(page 42) Omni's international ed- 
itor, W. E. Gutman, examines the 
proliferation of chemical and bio- 
logical weapons. "Armies once 
fought face-to-face," says Gut- 
man, former editor of NBC (Nucle- 
ar, Biological, and Chemical) De- 
fense International. "Now we are 
talking about weapons of awe- 
some dimensions for which no an- 
tidotes have been found." 

Describing Bruce Ames as "un- 
flappable and patiently instruc- 
tive," Bill Moseley (Interview, 
page 74) got 

white: The . lin 

blurred. Nature may not be be- 
nign, but it is innocent." When not 
interviewing scientists, Moseley 
has found time to appear in the 
films Pink Cadillac and The Tex- 
as Chainsaw Massacre 2. 

The Watson Research Center 
reminds writer Gregory T. Pope 
(Mind, page 24) ot a steel and 
glass crescent stretching across 
thecountryside. Ironically, the inte- 
rior resembles a huge brain 
slice. "A supercomputer is at the 
center, surrounded by 
individual research- 
ers, or little neurons, 
all working away in 
their own areas — and 
ail hooked up to the 
main terminal," Pope 
says. "It is a giant 
neural network," 

Omn/research editor 
Beth Howard (Animals, 
page 30) offers yet an- 

other argument for saving the 
threatened rain forests, home to 
a diversity of species and peo- 
ples. "We're learning new, useful 
things by observing the inhabi- 
tants within" the forest," says How- 
ard. "Drug companies will never 
be able to duplicate what evolu- 
tion has provided plants. Scien- 
tists call this 'nature's template.' " 

The delicate plant images in 
"The Mathematical Gardener" (Pic- 
torial, page 65) are the outgrowth 
of a new branch of mathematics 
called biomathematics. "Under- 
standing the laws of dynamic proc- 
esses at work underscores na- 
ture's beauty," says Omni asso- 
ciate editor Sandy Fritz. 

Every time Omni assistant edi- 
tor Mary Glucksman (Body, page 
28) wanted to write about John 
Sabolich's work, the prosthetics 
designer had already overshad- 
owed his latest breakthrough 
with yet another radical improve- 
ment. "With the Sense-of-Feel Sys- 
tem he has widened his industry's 
horizons," says Glucksman. "He 
has set the standard for a new gen- 
eration of artificial limbs whose 
sensory feedback will be an inte- 
gral part of their function." 

For international space expert 
James Oberg (Space, page 25), 
meeting with key people behind 
the Soviet space program and 
mapping out joint activities with 
the United States remains a con- 
stant source of satisfaction — as 
does his "day job" at NASA Mis- 
sion Control in Houston. 

J. G. Ballard Is the author of nu- 
merous novels, including Crash 
and Empire of the Sun. "Dream 
Cargoes" (page 58) marks Bal- 
lard's first appearance in Omni. 
The short story will appear in his 
newest collection, War Fever (Far- 
rar, Straus & Giroux), in April. 

Pat Murphy ("Peter," page 82) 
won a Nebula for her novel The 
Falling Woman. She also wrote 
The City, Not Long After and 
Points of Departure (both by Ban- 
tam), a collection of fiction. DO 




From saving the world to surviving 

extraterrestrial encounters 

Mastering Mysticism 

I read with interest Patrick Tierney's ar- 
ticle "The Mechanics of Mysticism" [No- 
vember 1990] but feel that due to the 
brevity of the article he shortchanged 
Dr. R. Keith Wallace. Tierney referred 
only to the original phys.clogical corre- 
lations of Transcendental Meditation. 
Dr. Wallace, however, has been 
researching this field for the past twen- 
ty years. I applaud Tierney's treatment 
of the subject and. would encourage 
htm to follow up on current research, 
which is yielding more consistent and 
satisfying results, 

Mark Hawkins, M.A. 
Ontario, Canada. 


Contrary to the article that mentions the 
lack of thermonuclear reactions of Bar- 
nard's star [Space, November 1990], 
they have been occurring for billions of 
years. Because Barnard's star is small 
and dim, the "ecosphere," where a suit- 
able planet could exist, is narrow and 
close to it. If a planet beats the odds 
and orbits within the narrow ecosphere. 
life on that world would be endangered 
by flares on the nearby star. 

Dr. Gregory L. Matloff 

Population Predicament 

I applaud and support the efforts of Sal- 
ly Struthers [First Word, November 
1990] to feed the world's hungry and 
more equitably distribute world food sup- 
plies. But, like many, she calls for treat- 
ing the symptoms over the cause. Slow- 
ing papulation growth is not "one an- 
swer"— it is the only answer. The cui 
rent birthrate cannot continue without 
catastrophic results. Overpopulation is 
a global problem and lowering the birth- 
rate is not a question that can be re- 
solved separately by nations, peoples, 
or individual families. 

Thomas Townsend 
Corvallis, OR 

Calling All Abductees 

We were amazed to read [Antimatter, 
September 1990] that Budd Hopkins is 
calling his new "IF" organization the 
"first nationwide help network for UFO 

abductees." Fact; Our organization, the 
UFO Contact Center International, is the 
oldest in the U.S. specifically for the pur- 
pose of assisting those persons who 
have had an abduction experience by 
UFOs, Incorporated as a nonprofit or- 
ganization in 1981, we have grown to 
60 centers in the U.S. and Canada. 

Aileen Bringle 

Director, UFO Contact Center 

Federal Way, WA 

Higher Order 

It's great that Omni threw a little expo- 
sure on the 12 AA steps, [or they have 
helped many people overcome various 
addictions. In reading the October 1990 
issue of Omni, however, I found an er- 
ror in the Omni Arcade Twelfth Anni- 
versary Quiz regarding the sequence of 
those steps. The first step states that 
"we admitted we were powerless over 
alcohol and that our lives have become 
unmanageable." Reliance on a higher 
power, or God, according to the indi- 
vidual, comes in steps two and three, 
the reason being, until an individual 
comes to grips with having no power 
himself over alcohol, reliance on a high- 
er power is out of the question. 

Mike Yow 
Greensboro, NO 

Minds of Change 

Some of the objection of the scientific 
community to Robert Jahn's psi exper- 
iments in "The Dean of Psi"[September 
1990] comes from those who fear it 
would upset their theories. Copernicus, 
Galileo, and Einstein all had the same 
problem. Having to change our minds 
is a bigger threat to many people than 
Iraq, nuclear winter, or Ted Kennedy for 

Ted C. Slack 

Great Games. ..and Gadgets 

I am a seventeen-year-old student and 
have enjoyed reading your magazine 
for the last few years. I especially en- 
joy the Games and Star Tech sections. 
I like to see what new ideas and gad- 
gets people have come up with. 

John Towers 
Ontario DO 


The following descriptions 
and values of the prizes in 
the 1991 Great Treasure 
Hunt correspond to the num- 
bered photos on these pag- 
es. 1) Grand prize; 1991 
Jeep Wrangler, including 
option package cf floor car- 
pet, power steering, and 
rear seat. 2) First prize: 
Northgate Computer Sys- 
tems hardware package. 3) 
Second prize: Casio electron- 
ics package, including Exec- 
utive B.O.S.S. with expan- 
sion card, dictionary card, 
and spell checks for finan- 
cial and medical terms; Ca- 
sio TV/VCR; mini hand-held 
color TV; electronic piano, 
horn, and keyboard; and 
two sets each of his-and- 

hers watches. 4) Third 
prize: Honda Nighthawk 750 
motorcycle. 5) Fourth prize: 
Okidata laser printer. 6) 
Fifth prize: Mitsubishi 40- 
inch big-screen television. 7) 
Sixth prize: Nordic Track 
workout equipment, includ- 
ing Track Pro, rowing ma- 
chine, and Fitness Chair. 8) 
Seventh prize: Electronics 
Dockage from , Ji iiden, includ- 
ing LCD Fishfinder, mobile 
cellular telephone with 
voice dial, radar detector, 
and Bearcat scanning radio. 
9) Eighth prize: Ad Lib pack- 
age, including an Ad Lib 
computer sound card, 
Acoustic Research speak- 
ers, and computer games 
from Lucasfilm Games, Ac- 

fi«l • 

■™ — 

JK. 48k 

i~~ : . _ 

. Now that you know the prizes, 

find out what to do next. Use your touchtone phone to 

CALL 1-900-773-OMN! or see instructions below * 

cess Software, SSI Soft- 
ware, Maxis Software, and 
Sierra On-Line. 10) Ninth 
prize: SNK Neo-Geo ad- 
vanced entertainment sys- 
tem and game cartridges. 
11) Tenth prize: Chinon's 
Genesis III camera outfit 
with 1 ,4X converter, WA con- 
verter, battery, and carry- 
ing case. 

lowing are the individual re- 
tail values of our prizes in 
the sixth annual Great Treas- 
ure Hunt. 1991 Jeep Wran- 
gler: $11 ,267, including the 
base sticker price of $9,910, 
plus option package of 
floor carpet, power steering, 
and rear seat worth $892, 
and destination charge of 



$465. Northgate Computer 

System with 8MB RAM: 

$10,042. Casio electronics 

;-ackaqe: $4,346. Honda 

-JiqU.h.-.vA'k 750 motorcycle: 


er: $2,999. Mitsubishi 40- 

nch ba-screen television: 

$2,399. Nordic Track work- 

out equipment, including 

Track Pro. rowing machine, 

and Fitness Chair: $2,067. 

(Jniden electronics pack- 

age: $1 ,856.85. Ad Lib pack- 

age: $1,354.24. SNKEnter- 

ainment system: $1,047. 

^hinon camera outfit: 

31 ,029.75. 

To find out more about 

noivid-ja.' prizes, see the 

Sift Finder's Guide on the 

next page. 



1991 JeeR Wrangler 

Now that you know the prizes, 

find out what to do next. Determine the solution and 

CALL 1-900-773-OMNL 


This month's Omniis your map in the 1991 Treas- 
ure Hunt; the 12 discs belgw, your clues. 
Match the clues with their original sources and 
you could drive.away in a 1991 Jeep Wrangler, in- 
cluding an option package of floor carpet, power 
steering, and rear seat. Or you could win another 
treasure— from a Casio c-lecyomc products pack- 
age, an Okidata laser printer, or a Mitsubishi big- 
screen television, to a Honda Nighthawk motorcy- 
cle or Nortngale Computer Systems' Dream Produc- 
tivity System that includes Ihe Northgate 486 with 
8MB RAM, 200MB SCSI hard drive, Omnikey Ul- 
tra keyboard, NEC 4D monitor, Qumi 
Series II printer, video 7 VRAM card, MS-DOS 4,01, 
Windows 3.0, and olher 

Each of the dozen pic- 
ture discs displayed on 
this page is a portion of 
a photo or illustration ap- 
pearing in an advertise- 
ment in this issue. Find 
the advertisements that 
match the clues; then 
note the page number 
for each ad. For clues 
on the inside or outside 
of the front or back cov- 
er, count that page num- 
ber as zero. If there is no 
page number on the 
clue page, turn to the 
next numbered page 
- arid use that as your an- 
swer. Add up the ^num- 
bers for your solution to 
the 1991 Great Treasure 
Hunt in this issue. 

SARY. To enter automati- 
cally, call 1-900-773- 
6664 between February 

1, 1991, and May 31, 1991, to give your name, ad- 
dress, and daytime telephone number, and Ihe cor- 
rect solution to the 1991 Treasure Hunt appearing 
in Ibis issue of Omni. Each call costs $2.00 the 
first minute and $1.00 each additional minute or 
fraction thereof: average call length. is estimated 
to be two to three minutes. You must be eighteen 
years old to call or have a parent's or guardian's 
permission before calling. Call as often as you 
wish; each call is a separate entry. 

You may also enter by printing your name, ad- 
dress, daytime, phone number, and the solution to 
the Treasure Hunt on a three- by five-inch sheet of 
paper. Mail your entry to Treasure Hunt, Box 793, 

Gibbstown, NJ 08027. Enter as often as you wish; 
each write-in entry must be mailed separately. All 
entries must be received by May 31, 1991. 

The 1991 Treasure Hunt is sponsored jointly by 
Omni magazine and Compute magazine; varying 
creative presentations may be used. Winners will 
be selected on or about June 30, 1991. fro.m 
among all eligible entries in random drawings 
conducted by Power Group, Inc., an independent 
judging organization whose decisions are final. 

Odds of winning are determined by the number 
of eligible entries received. For complete rules (in- 
cluding the solution} send a self-addressed, 
stamped envelope to 1991 Treasure Hunt Rules, 
Box 849, Gibbstown. NJ 
08027 by May 15, 1991. 
For more information on 
products and services in 
the Great Treasure 
Hunt contact the compa- 
nies at the following ad- 
dresses. Access Soft- 
ware Inc., 545 West 
500 South, Suite 130, 
Bountiful, UT 84010; 
1-800-800-4880. Acous- 
tic Research, 330 Turn- 
pike Street, Canton, 
MA 02021; 1-800-969- 
AR4U. Ad Lib Inc., 50 
Staniford St., Suite 800, 
Boston, MA 02114; 
1-800-463-2686. Ameri- 
can Honda, Dept. 91, 
Box 7055, North Holly- 
wood, CA 91609. Casio, 
Inc., 570 Mt. Pleasant 
Ave., Dover, NJ 07801. 
Chinon America, Inc., 
1065 Bristol Rd., Box 
1248, Mountainside, NJ 
07092. Jeep Wrangler, 
1-800-JEEP-EAGLE. Lucasfilms Games Division, 
3270 Kerner, San Rafael, CA 94912. Maxis, 415- 
376-6434. Mitsubishi Electronics America, Inc., 557 
Plaza Dr., Box 6007, Cypress, CA 90630. Nordic- 
Track, 141 Jonathan North, Chaska, MN 55318. 
Northgate Computer Systems, 7075 Flying Cloud 
Dr., Eden Prairie, MN 55344. Okidata, 532 Fellow- 
ship Rd., Mount Laurel, NJ 08054. Sierra On-Line, 
Inc., Box 485, Coarsegold, CA 93614. SNK Home 
Entertainment, Inc., 22301 S. Western Ave., Suite 
107, Torrance, CA 93614; 1-800-253-6665. Stra- 
tegic Simulations, Inc., 675 Almanor, Suite 201, Sun- 
nyvale, CA 94086. Uniden, 4700 Amon Carter 
Blvd., Fort Worth, TX 76155: 817-858-3300. DO 


may arise the ultimate thinking 
machine, the brainstorming computer 

s seemed 
to fire at 
random. Yet as a 
whole, the 
neural network 
pulsed in a 
rhythmic oscilla- 
tion, doing 
"the Theta Wave." 

A mouse sniffs around a 
lab late at night, while 
l an exhausted research- 
er slumbers over a supercomput- 
er terminal. Although neither can 
tell us what's going through his 
mind, both brains are putting out 
waves, a quietly reverberating elec- 
trical storm that present-day com- 
puters can't duplicate. 

Unless the scientist is Roger 
Traub: His computer might be giv- 
ing off waves, too. 
To Traub's astonish- 
ment, his computer 
started doing just 
that last year. Traub 
devised a program 
that re-created a 
9,900-cell slice of 
brain circuitry, an an- 
atomically accurate 
network. When fed 
simulated sensory in- 
put, the brain-slice 
program responded 
with a series of artifi- 
cial theta waves. 
was completely spon- 
taneous," remem 
bers Traub, a neural 
ogist and research fel 
low at IBM's Thomas 
J. Watson Research 
Center in Yorktown 
Heights, New York. 

For years, comput- 
er scientists in the 
neural network field have striven 
to design machines that can 
think like brains. But no one 
knows how brains do it. Brain- 
scanning tools only measure the 
collective voltage of millions of fir- 
ing neurons. Some neurons send 
excitatory, others inhibitory mes- 
sages. Both types are interlaced 
in a labyrinth of connections and 
feedback. Traub's program is a 
big step toward mapping this elec- 
trical traffic. It also demonstrates 
how far neural network computers 
must evolve before they can rep- 
licate brain functions. - 

In the early Eighties, Traub as- 
sembled his first computerized 

model from experiments aimed at 
understanding epilepsy. At Colum- 
bia University, he and colleagues 
pieced together a model of excit- 
atory connections between cells 
based on a statistical analysis of 
recordings from a slice of rat hip- 
pocampus—a hot spot of electri- 
cal activity. Ultimately, they built 
a model of a healthy hippocam- 
pus. When Traub delivered a sen- 
sory-type signal to one of his 

simulated neurons, the entire net- 
work settled into a low-frequen- 
cy oscillation. A rhythm swept 
around the network; groups of 
cells fired in unison, then rested, 
almost like stadium spectators do- 
ing "The Wave." 

From Traub's models comes a 
picture of a brain far more dynam- 
ic than suggested by current neu- 
ral network computers. Comput- 
ers work by channeling electrical 
activity into precise, insulated cur- 
rents. Designers toil to avoid hav- 
ing one transistor generate an 
electrical field that touches off 
spontaneous activity in neighbor- 
ing transistors. Yet that's exactly 

how the brain seem: 
Also, data processing in comput- 
ers involves instantaneous elec- 
trical events with no aftereffects. 
"No part of the brain works like 
that," Traub says. "There are al- 
ways aftercurrents that keep a re- 
cord of past events." His network 
incorporates these after-ripples. 
Traub thinks a paradigm of the 
brain's functioning may derive 
from studies of chaos. Physicists, 
'_ for example, can re- 
duce the turbulence 
of airflow over a heli- 
copter blade to math- 
ematical values that, 
charted geometri- 
cally, settle into a 
wobbly but repeated 
orbit. Such a pattern 
is called a strange at- 
tractor. The rhyth- 
mic firings of the 
hippocampus, Traub 
suggests, may be a 
similar manifestation 
of the underlying cha- 
otic firing of individ- 
ual neurons. 

"If you change the 
initial conditions, set 
up different connec- 
tions and strengths 
of connections," he 
notes, "the pattern is 
disrupted but you 
still get an oscilla- 
tion. And that behavior suggests 
a strange attractor," 

A strange attractor could repre- 
sent a memory, Traub speculates, 
and different initial conditions 
could lead the network to settle 
on different memories. "Of 
course it could mean nothing like 
that," he admits. "Maybe if you 
wire it up this way, the damn 
thing just 0301113163." 

Could his research lead to a 
new computer architecture? 
"When we understand the dynam- 
ics of this thing," Traub insists, 
"maybe we can find uses for it, 
but not befcxe." 

— Gregory T Pope DO 

24 OMNI 


The Soviets say their ejection system is tops, but 

is the rest of the world buying it? 

A Soviet pilot 

exited his 

MiG-29 jet at the 

1989 Paris 

Air Show when It 

took a disas- 

trous nosedive 

after losing 

power. He landed 

safely, due in 

large part to a new 

ejection system. 

At the Paris Air Show in 
June of 1989, horrified 
i spectators watched as 
a Soviet pilot bailed out of his jet 
when an engine suddenly lost pow- 
er after ingesting a bird. At an al- 
titude of less than 200 feet, the pi- 
lot ejected in the wrong direction 
and fell much too quickly. Yet he 
survived — thanks in part to the 
jet's innovative ejection system. A 
similar ejection system destined 
for the Soviet Buran space shut- 
tie is now being vigorously mar- 
keted in the West by its designer, 
Guy Nich Severin. 

The K-36RB shuttle escape sys- 
tem has taken Severin from obscu- 
rity as the head of a'supersecret 
Soviet military aviation factory to 
the spotlight. The mechanism is 
already standard for all Soviet su- 
personic aircraft. Mow Severin is 

trying to convert his newfound rec- 
ognition into cash by selling the 
K-36RB to the United States and 
Europe. But drumming up sales 
may prove an even greater chal- 
lenge than designing the system 
in the first place. 

Autonomous sensing devices 
in Sevehn's system detect space- 
craft failures that require immedi- 
ate ejection. Cables attached to 
astronauts' heels, wrists, and hel- 
mets jerk their bodies into the prop- 
er posture for the violent depar- 
ture. Emergency shutdown com- 
mands are sent to. all the boost- 
er's engines lest one of ihe stag- 
es incinerate the ejecting crew. 
Hatches blow off the cabin roof, 
and mortar shells under the 
seats thrust the astronauts from 
the craft. 

Strapped to each astronaut is 
an ejection unit containing a two- 

stage solid rocket motor that, in 
seconds, propels the astronaut 
half a kilometer from the craft. 
Stored inside each unit, moreo- 
ver, a self-contained oxygen sup- 
ply and an automatic parachute 
system aid the astronaut, even if 
unconscious or injured, in making 
a safe touchdown. 

According to Severin, the seat 
and pressure suit combination pro- 
vides an effective escape from lift- 
off through Mach 3 at 60,000 
feet. (Higher than that, the shut- 
tle would probably be able to 
glide back to "safe" altitudes 
where the astronauts could eject.) 
If an accident occurs near the 
end of a mission, when the shut- 
tle reenters the atmosphere, the. 
escape system will be usable 
once the spacecraft's speed has 
dropped to less than Mach 2. 

middeck. Severin objects to crews 
of more than four people because 
getting them out in an emergency 
would be extremely difficult. 

Severin's claims about his sys- 
tem's performance are "not out- 
rageous," says one U.S. astronaut 
who met the designer. However, 
he and most others at NASA are 
very skeptical that any ejection sys- 
iem could allow safe escape dur- 
ing the first 30 seconds of flight, 
when there is almost no opportu- 
nity for the astronauts to get away 
quickly from the shuttle and 
when there may be no warning of 
an imminent malfunction. 

Despite NASA's lack of inter- 
est, Severin is now competing 
with a European team for the Eu- 
ropean Space Agency's Hermes 
spaceplane ejection system. One 
of the somewhat lighter Europe- 

The Severin system is many 
times more capable than NASA's 
current approach. After the Chal- 
lenger catastrophe, shuttle astro- 
nauts began carrying parachutes 
and oxygen systems, using a spe- 
cial slide to throw themselves 
clear of a plummeting spacecraft. 
Yet the NASA system is designed 
to deal with scenarios that aren't 
the accidents most likely to occur, 
Severin contends. 

However, NASA is unlikely to 
buy the Soviet design or even a 
similar system from an American 
company. For one thing, NASA 
estimates that installing the sys- 
tem in its shuttles would cost up 
to $1 billion. NASA also routinely 
flies crews larger than four, the 
maximum number that Severin's 
system is designed to evacuate. 
Flying larger crews would require 
placing astronauts on the shuttle's 

an design's chief selling points is 
that, being locally manufactured, 
it would encounter less political op- 
position than Severin's system. 

Despite the Soviet system's 
sparkling performance, there re- 
main nagging questions about its 
reliability. According to Severin, 
it has been activated 300 times dur- 
ing flight, with "virtually no injury" 
most of the time. He has stated 
that he is not responsible for 
those who use it outside the con- 
ditions for which it was designed, 
implying that deaths have oc- 
curred from misuse. 

Severin's firm is one of the first- 
Soviet companies to peddle its 
wares to the West and, indeed, 
will need non-Soviet customers to 
survive. If Severin is to succeed, 
he must first earn the trust of his 
potential buyers. 

— James ObergOQ 




New technology will help amputees, paraplegics, and 

fracture patients keep their feet on the ground 

In the bottom of the ninth inning, 
Chuck Tiemann hits a single for 
the home team, driving in the 
tying score as he slides into first 
base. Nothing particularly unusual 
about that — except Tiemann 
wears prosthetic limbs. He lost his 
right leg and left arm after a live 
wire sent 7,200 volts of electricity 
through his body. The sports en- 
thusiast expected to never play 
baseball again, but he's made a 
comeback— thanks to the revolu- 
tionary Sabolich Sense-of-Feel 
(SOF) System. 

The creator of the SOF System, 
John Sabolich, has been respon- 
sible for at least a dozen innova- 
tive designs for artificial limbs. His 
designs allow double amputees, 
moreover, to walk step over step; 
children with thigh-high amputa- 
tions can run, and five -month -old 
babies can crawl and eventually 
learn to walk. 

Sensors in 

the sole of his 


foot (right) tell 

SOF user 

Chuck Tiemann 


when he slides 

into base. 

Sabolich's latest contribution, 
however, uses electrical impuls- 
es to trick the brain into project- 
ing sensations to the missing por- 
tion of a limb lost to accident or 
disease or undeveloped at birth. 
Using the SOF System, patients 
balance better, walk and run 
more gracefully, and negotiate un- 
even terrain more easily. 

Placed in the sole of the pros- 
thetic foot and reliable enough to 
withstand body weight, transduc- 
ers send electrical signals to elec- 
trodes attached to the skin of the 
wearer's stump. As many as 
eight electrodes, each connected 
to a separate sensor, are at- 
tached to Sabolich-designed 
stump sockets Intricately con- 
toured to fit precisely against the 
remaining thighbone, muscles, 
and tendons. The healthy mus- 
cles and nerves in the stump 
pick up the transducers' signals 
and transmit them 
to the brain as if 
they were coming 
from a natural foot. 
The brain inter- 
prets the messag- 
es as varying de- 
grees of pressure 
on different parts 
of the sole; it then 
produces sensory 
biofeedback as 
the foot moves on 
the ground. 

As a result, a pa- 
tient stepping on a 
stone, for exam- 
ple, can sense it im- 
mediately and com- 
pensate with the 
next step; driving a 
car, he can feel his 
foot on the brake 
or the accelerator. 
"When the brain in- 
terprets the tingly 
sensations it gets 
from the floor, it 
does something 
we call cerebrally 
projecting the foot 

in the patient's mind," Sabolich 
says. "Some amputees even re- 
port feeling their toes bending 
and their heels pushing off the 
floor with each step," 

Although the SOF System will 
have an enormous impact on the 
more than 2 million amputees in 
the United States, Sabolich ex- 
pects it to have even more exten- 
sive uses. Working with new am- 
putees,. fracture patients, and par- 
aplegics, physical therapists can 
manipulate the electrodes' ampli- 
tude. Patients can then learn 
which muscles to use when walk- 
ing and avoid stressing other mus- 
cles. Diabetics who lose sensa- 
tion in their feet, for example, 
tend to exert too much pressure 
when they walk and develop ul- 
cerated sores that often lead to 
amputations. "You could put a 
doughnut-shaped electrode over 
an ulcer on the sole' of a diabet- 
ic's foot to ensure he knows 
when he's applying too much pres- 
sure on the area." Sabolich says. 

While the SOF System already 
represents a major advance in bi- 
onic limbs, Sabolich is hard at 
work designing circuitry that will 
do much more. Experimenting 
with various types of transducers, 
he hopes to enable amputees to 
experience temperature changes, 
tactile sensations like tickling, and 
even pain — to alert the wearer if 
the prosthesis is damaged. 

The inventor is also adapting 
the SOF System for the myoelec- 
tric arm, a prosthesis that uses 
electrodes to send bioelectrical 
energy from residual muscles to 
microprocessors that operate 
individual motor parts. Although 
interference from the arm's elec- 
trical signals has proved a stum- 
bling block, Chuck Tiemann recent- 
ly tested a prototype and could re- 
portedly feel a pencil moving be- 
tween his fingers. Sabolich 
hopes to produce a working mod- 
el, complete with a new Sabolich 
Socket, sometime next year. 

— Mary Glucksman DO 



Self-prescribing chimps lead researchers 

to nature's medicine cabinet 

Monkey do: 



says that 

by eating this 

chimps are 

out for their 

□ n most mornings, chim- 
panzees in Tanzania's 
Gombe Stream National 
Park climb down from their nests 
and head for the nearest fruit 
tree. Occasionally, however, 
they pass up breakfast and trav- 
el up to 20 minutes, seeking a par- 
ticular multistemmed plant. In- 
stead of stripping the plant's 
stems clean and munching the 
leaves, as they do with other 
plants, the chimps carefully re- 
move only the small, young 
leaves, which they fold and swal- 
low whole, sometimes grimacing 
like a child taking castor oil, 

For years, behavior associated 
with consuming the plant, called 
aspilia, was a mystery to chimp 
watchers. Recently, however, re- 
searchers may have solved the pri- 
mate puzzle: The chimps are tak- 
ing care of their health. 

At least that's the conclusion of 
Richard Wrangham, an anthropol- 
ogist at Harvard University, who 
has meticulously studied primates 
for almost 20 years. 

Aspilia contains thiarubrine-A, 
a potent compound that appears 
to help chimps rid them- 
selves of parasites. 
Chimps, Wrangham 
says, usually ig- 
nore aspilia, even 
when it is close 
by. When they are 
sickly, however, 
they will go 
out of their 
way to find it. 
Chimps often 

eat the plant at dawn, when the 
active compound is most con- 
centrated in the leaves. 

As part of her long-term obser- 
vations of Gombe chimps, more- 
over, chimp expert Jane Goodall 
has routinely found intact aspilia 
leaves in chimp dung. It follows, 
Wrangham theorizes, that the 
plant is probably not ingested for 
its nutritional value or for rough- 
age. Instead the leaves, display- 
ing tiny ruptured glands when 
viewed under a microscope, 
seem to release chemicals in the 
animals' guts. 

When Wrangham learned that 
the local Tongwe people also use 
various species of aspilia to treat 
themselves tor illnesses, the med- 
ication theory began to take 
hold. In 1984 Wrangham sent 
whole aspilia leaves recovered 
from chimp feces to Eloy Ro- 
driguez, a pharmacognocist at 
the University of California at Ir- 
vine. What Rodriguez discovered 
in the leaves "was like finding wa- 
ter on the moon," he says. 'The 
young leaves contain a chemical 
not found in older leaves," explain- 
ing why chimps select only small 
leaves. Rodriguez subsequently 
discovered that thiarubrine-A has 
strong antibiotic properties. 

Studies by other chimp watch- 
ers bear out Wrangham's theories 
about chimpanzees and self-med- 
ication. In one study in the near- 
by Mahale Mountains Wildlife Re- 
search Centre, two primatologists 
watched a lethargic chimp by- 
pass favorite foods to sample an- 
other apparently medici- 
nal plant. In 24 hours 
she was well again. 

s taking drugs, 
Wrangham suggests, reinforc- 
es the perception that they 
are the most intelligent of 
primates. "What we know 
comes from several differ- 
ent researchers involving 
lite different chemicals," 
i says, "so it is not a 
response to a particular 

chemical; it's a response to the 
effect of the chemical that seems 
to be important. In other words, 
I think the chimpanzees must 
learn that the effects are good 
on their stomachs." 

As Wrangham ponders the sig- 
nificance of the primates' behav- 
ior, Rodriguez, intrigued by thia- 
rubrine-A's potency, has contin- 
ued to test the compound, In 
vitro tests show that it may have 
tremendous potential as a treat- 
ment against cancer in humans. 

The possibility of discovering 
other natural drugs by watching 
animals has led to a new tield of 
study: zoopharmacognosy. In- 
deed, Harvard researchers have 
observed bears rubbing medici- 
nal oils on their fur, and an ele- 
phant watcher in Kenya notes 
that pregnant females about to 
give birth will often go looking for 
a plant that induces labor. 

Finding potential natural medi- 
cines this way clearly adds fire to 
environmentalists' pleas to pre- 
serve threatened wildernesses. Ro- 
driguez, however, is concerned 
that knowledge gained from 
such discoveries be put to use in 
their countries of origin. Thiaru- 
brine-A could be mixed into the 
feed of livestock in developing 
countries, making them less vul- 
nerable to parasites. Or it could 
protect crops. 

"I've also argued for the estab- 
lishment of regional medicinal 
gardens in areas where certain 
lore exists, places where people 
can just go and get the useful 
plants," he says. 

To encourage others to think re- 
sponsibly about natural medi- 
cines, Rodriguez and Wrangham 
have filed a patent for thiarubrine- 
A, earmarking part of the pro- 
ceeds for the preservation of the 
chimpanzees' habitat. 

"I like the idea of chimps show- 
ing us the medicine and then 
helping to pay for their own con- 
servation," Wrangham says. 

—Beth Howard DQ 



School's in, as Czechoslovakia forges lesson plans for the future. 

Also: Simulated sex, zapping pollution, and garlic power 

Among [he horror sto- 
ries of the hypocrisies 
of Communism, there 
is none more poign- 
ant than the begin- 
ning of The Book of 
Laughter and Forget- 
ting by exiled Czech 
author Milan Kundera. 
In February 1948. Kun- 
dera recounts, newly 
installed Communist 
president Klement 
Gottwald stepped out 
onto a balcony in 
Prague to address the 
nation. Because of the 
cold, his solicitous 
deputy, Clementis, of- 
fered his own fur cap 
to the bareheaded 
Gottwald. Millions of 
people saw the pic- 
ture of them together, with that cap on Gottwald's head. 

Four years later Clementis was hanged for treason. Of- 
ficials immediately airbrushed him out of all photographs — 
and hence out of history. "All that remained of Clementis 
was the cap on Gottwald's head," Kundera wrote. 

Since Czechoslovakia's Velvet Revolution of November 
1989, restoring the record and rewriting the history 
books have been a priority of playwright-president 
Vaclav Havel's government. The new leadership under- 
stands that reeducation is the key to assuaging the na- 
tion's confusion and fears about the past, current ideo- 
logical change, and the uncertainties of the future. 

Under the Communist system, students endured a hope- 
lessly overwhelming curriculum, including many hours of 
philosophy lessons a week on Marx and Lenin, and were 
required to pass all subjects to enter universities. Failure 
meant retesting or relegation to technical school. Many 
students simply gave up. Proposals for change include 
restoring the former system of gymnasium schools, 
which channel students into technical colleges or groom 
them for universities. Students will have to compete for 
university placement instead of relying on political con- 
nections to matriculate. 

Because of a shortage of new textbooks and the need 
to implement a new curriculum quickly, the department 

of education plans 
to launch a series of 
television programs 
for the schools, togeth- 
er with nationwide 
televised debates to 
reeducate the popula- 
tion. Deputy Premier 
Joseph Hromadka is 
realistic about the na- 
tion's critical shortag- 
es in management ex- 
pertise, technology. 
exchange programs, 
and financial aid, and 
he hopes for Western 
assistance. He says, 
however, that Czecho- 
slovakia is not without 
its own vital resourc- 
es. "We have no capi- 
tal, but we have oth- 
er reserves— human 
minds, souls, and the capacity to work." Today, he says, 
each teacher has the unique opportunity to state the 
truth, to teach history as it actually occurred — not as the 
party dictated. 

Despite the optimism about improvements in educa- 
tion, there will be. casualties, too. Helena Nechlebova, a 
languages teacher at the University of Ceske Budejovice, 
is leaving the field after 13 years, emotionally exhausted. 
"I've had enough," she says. "Today the real problem is 
apathy. Students think that freedom means freedom 
from having to learn, freedom from having to go to class 
and work hard." 

And officials are worried, particularly about the very 
group responsible for the revolution. "Following the stu- 
dent riots in 1968 a lot of kids dropped out," Hromadka 
says. "We can't let that happen to this generation of kids 
who fought so hard to gain their freedom." 

Sixteen-year-old Prague student Hagir Fathi admits 
that her classmates are just beginning to appreciate the 
shortcomings of the Communist education system. "We 
have never experienced anything else, so we thought it 
was normal," she says. "Until we have new textbooks, 
good teachers, smaller classes, better equipment, com- 
puters, exchange programs, there's no reason to learn. 
We have nothing to believe in."— STEPHEN MILLS 



Using a small solar col- 
lector mounted on the 
roof of a physics building, 
researchers at the Uni- 
versity of Chicago have ob- 
tained the most concen- 
trated beam of sunlight ever 
recorded. 15 percent 
more intense than light on 
the surface of the sun. 

The device uses a 
16-inch telescope mirror 
to focus light onto a circular 
area measuring one centi- 
meter. From there the 
lighl enters a cone-shaped 
sapphire funnel, concentrat- 
ing the beam 100 times. 

The physicists found that 
directing the focused 
beam through a rod-shaped 
crystal created a solar- 
powered laser. Philipp 
Gleckman, a coresearcher 
on the project, says they 
may have bumped into 
a new method for powering 
lasers. "The Israeli gov- 
ernment is seriously looking 
into this technique," he 
says. "Bui I do not think 
it's too practical." 

— Steve [\atj!S 


OR 30,000 BILLION 

34 OMNI 





In the film Sleeper, 
Woody Allen unknowingly 
walks into the ultimate sex 
machine — Ihe orgasma- 
tron — and a little later 
emerges disheveled but 
happy. A genuine orgasma- 
tron may materialize in 
the near future, says Milton 
Wolf, head of acquisitions 
for the Getchell Library of 
the University of Nevada 
at Reno. 

Wolf, who has lectured at 
robotics conferences on 
these developments, pre- 
dicts that computer-induced 

ss.^j&I experiences will be 
commonplace within ten 
years — thanks to pioneering 
work in virtual reality. 

People will hook them- 
selves up to a virtual 
reality program similar to a 
flight simulator, call up their 
favorite sexual partner, 
establish their fantasy, and 
start going through 
the motions. Users receive 
feedback from PC-linked 
biosensors attached to their 
bodies and sexual organs, 
resulrng finally in orgasm. 
"The evolution of man is 
going to be for many of us a 
relationship with our machin- 
ery that is extremely 
intimate," Wolf says^ 

—Paul McCarthy 


Want to whiten your 
teeth? Here's a little-known 
secret that's bound to be 
common knowledge soon: 
Simply put a few drops of 
carbamide peroxide in a 
plastic football-type mouth 
guard. Refresh it with a few 
drops every few hours and 
within a month your teeth will ■ 
be sparkling. 

Studies by the University 
of North Carolina (UNC) 
School Of Dentistry have 
shown this method to be 
safe, comfortable, and 
effective (unless your stains 
betray an underlying dental 
problem such as an 
abscess). At $150 to $350 a 
treatment, it's a bargain 
compared with conventional 
whitening. And since any 
den'lsl can fit you with a 
mouth guard, as thin as 
saran wrap, the technique 
should spread quickly. 

So who came up with this 
bright idea? "I've been 
trying to find its origin since I 
came across it two years 
ago," says UNC prosthodon- 
tics professor Van 
Haywood, who ran the 
clinical studies. So far the 
trail has led to some dentists 
in Arkansas and North 
Carolina who started pre- 
scribing the original tech- 
nique sometime in the 
Sixties. Whoever can lay a 
lega claim to the method 
could sink his or her teeth 
into a fortune — if the 
teeth-whitening technique 
can be patented. That's a 
big if, says Haywood, 
because both bleaching 
solution and mouth guards 
have been around for 
decades. — Greg Pope 


system for NASA that turns 

shuttle wastewater into 

drinking supplies for astro- 

! {■».•■ 

nauts. "There's no reason 

why this technology 

couldn't be solving real- 

i' '■■ ■ " :H:.:t~--v-;. ' 

world problems by mid- 

1991 ," says company 

president Gerald Cooper. 

■ ^•Ss^"*""*"""*"" ■""""^ 

The key to the water's 

- " 

transformation is a 

metal oxide powder that 


reacts with sunlight. 

converting it into an elec- 

trical charge that speeds 

up the breakdown' of 

/\ Wife drjp in a bigpond: Clean 

organic pollutants into 

ing water with electricity. 

carbon dioxide. "You. Can't 

just dump the stuff into a 


polluted pond and expect 


it to work," Cooper says. 

"To optimize the results, 

NASA, that 

you have to pump the 

gave us the moon, has 

polluted water through a 

underwritten an elegant 

■ reaction chamber." 

technique that purifies 

Cooper says that the 

water tainted with organic 

technique would cost 

pollutants such as PGBs 

about 40 cents a. gallon, on- 

and hydrocarbons. 

a par with techniques 

Photo-Catalytics, Inc., of 

currently used to treat 

Boulder, Colorado, spent 


five years developing a 

— '.George Nob be 


Space may be the final 
frontier, but it's the last 
place you want to be if you 
have a toothache. That's 
why John Young, clinical 
professor of dentistry at the 
University of Texas Health 
Science Center in San 
Antonio, is developing a 
zero-gravity dental office. 
Young's system trans- 
forms a- section of the astro- 
nauts' living quarters — 
about 50 cubic feet— into- 
a dental clinic. After the 

patient is strapped to 
whatever is available, the 
doctor dons a special *| 
harness to keep from 
floating away, "You work like 
a mountain climber, pulling 
back against the rope to 
counteract the weightless 
environment," Young says. 
Blood, saliva, and other 
materials are tunneled into 
a container by a jet of air 
blowing from above the 
patient's head. With longer 
missions in the near future, 
his zero-gravity dental office 
■■■'■.■■ II become a permanent 
implant.- — Marilynn Larkin 


Garlic's legendary pow- 
ers range from keeping 
vampires at bay to curing 
the common cold. Now 
Penn State scientists have 
added two more miracles to 
the list: thwarting heart 
attacks and preventing 
breast cancer. 

Intrigued by reports of 
near-can cerless areas 
of China where garlic 
consumption can hit 20 
cloves a day, Dr. John 
Ivlilner, head of the nutrition 
department at Penn State's 
College of Health and 
Human Development, fed 
rats up to 20 grams of garlic 
a day (a gram for a rat 
equals a clove for humans) — 
aicng with a carcinogen 
that induces breast cancer. 
The result? A marked 
lack of mammary tumors. 
Milner is now searching for 
the active ingredients in 
garlic that seem to suppress 
breast cancer. 

In a related study, work 
by Dr, Yu Yan Yeh, an 
associate professor of 

nutrition at Penn State, 
suggests that garlic 
may stave off heart 



blood cholesterol. Yan Yeh 
found that when rats 
ingested garlic, their levels 
of "bad" cholesterol (LDL) 
dropped by 30 percent. 
Although the results are 
promising, he says that 
human trials may have to 
wait two or three years. 
"There's a real danger of 
toxicity," says Yan Yeh. 
"Garlic ingested in very 
large quantities, like a 
thousand cloves a day, 
might prove harmful to the 
system." No word yet on 
breath fresheners. 

—Bob Berger 
Cancer ouster? !r: pans of China 
where garlic consumptbn nears 
20 cloves a day, breast cancer 





A recently discovered 
Mimbres Indian pottery 
bowl, depicting a rabbit 
shaking a starlike object off 
its foot, is believed to be a 
record of the a.d. 1054 
supernova that created the 
Crab Nebula. 

R. Robert Robbins. pro- 
fessor of astronomy at the 
University of Texas at 
Austin, and his former 
student Russell Westmore- 
land sifted through a 
Mimbres pottery collection 
for clues to Native American 
astronomy. They found a 
whimsical seven-inch-wide 
bowl with its unmistakable 
lunar symbol, the rabbit, 
and a star. Robbins says 
that the rabbit and the star 
are in the same positions as 
the moon and the super- 
nova during the 1054 event, 
with the star emitting 23 
rays. Chinese observations 
of the supernova 
nole that it 
was vi si- 

Trie suit with an elephant's memory Ur.iversr.y of New Hamp- 
shire researchers are fitting disabled people into the workplace. 


Clothes have always 
told a lot about the person 
who wears them — but 
electrical engineers at the 

University of New Hamp- 
shire have designed some 
gear that reveals all, Their 
skintight electronic outfit, 
known as an actimeter, can 

remember every move a 
wearer makes in a 24-hour 
period. More than just a 
fashion statement, the suit, 
says UNH graduate stu- 
dent Steven Koenig, will 
"enable us to place 
physically challenged indi- 
viduals in regular jobs. The 
.suit will show either that 
they are able to do the job 

or how to eliminate 
movements they are un- 
able to perform," he says. 
"Until now, people had to 
use questionnaires to 
gather this type of data." 

The actimeter uses 
gravity-driven mercury 
switches at various key 
body locations to deter- 
mine the wearer's move- 
ments: on the arms, head, 
back, hips, upper and 
lower legs. Wires run from 
the switches to a micro- 
computer, about the size of 
a TV remote control, worn 
at the hip. The suit 
memorizes the wearer's 
body movements and 
downloads the information 
into, a PC where research- 
ers can analyze the data. 
—Tom Dworetzky 

ble even in daylight for 23 

days. "It appears," says 

Robbins, "that the Mimbres 

were better astronomers 

than we thought." 

-Jan Ziegler 


Some scientists yell, 
"Eureka!" But atMonell 
Chemical Senses Center in 

Philadelphia, a major discov- 
ery is more apt to make 
scientists cry, "Pyew!" 
There a research team led 
by George Preti has isolated 
the chemical responsible for 
underarm odor. Catching a 
whiff of the chemical, called 
3-methyl-2-hexanoic acid, 
prompted one of Preti's 
colleagues to say, "Jeez! It 
smells just like my T-shirts at 
the end of the day." 

A group of male volun- 
teers wore underarm pads 
to collect samples; the 
sweat was then subjected to 
gas chromatography to 
separatethe individual 
compounds before being 
■subjected to a highly 
sensitive chemical detec- 
tor — namely, the hu- 
man nose. "We couldn't use 
a mechanical detector," 
says Preti, "because only 
the nose knows what body 
odor smells like." The 
upshot of Preti's work will be 
more effective deodorants. 
— Kathleen McAuliffe 








During World War II, the 
British government built 
thousands of pillboxes — 
concrete miniforts for a 
handful of soldiers — as a 
defense against a Nazi in- 
vasion. But Hitler never 
made it to England and now 
the southeastern county of 
Surrey is honeycombed with 
these useless war relics. 
Thanks to the efforts of the 
Surrey Wildlife Trust, how- 
ever, the pillboxes are 
getting a new lease on life 
as condominiums for bats. 

Britain's bat population, 
explains the trust's Roger 
Rarnmage, has declined by 
as much as 90 percent 
during the last ten years due 
to loss of habitat and the 
increasing use of insecti- 
cides. "We'd been racking 
our brains trying to think 
of an appropriate way to 
help save the bat popula- 
tion," says Rarnmage. "Then 
someone realized that the 
pillboxes would make ideal 
homes for bats." The trust 
converted three of them, 
blocking up the entrances 
except for one bat-sized 
hole. And sure enough, the 
bats moved right in. 

Now the trust has 
developed do-it-yourself con- 
version kits for the many 
homeowners in. Surrey who 
have pillboxes on their 
property. When the pillbox 
conversions are complete, 
researchers will tag the bats 

and keep a population 
count, Rarnmage says, "to 
see if these roosts keep the 
bats coming back." 

— Bill Lawren 


It's old news that 
caterpillars of the families 

Riodinidae and Lycaenidae 
often enter into cooperative 
relationships with various 
ant species. The caterpillars 
secrete a combination of 
proteins and sugars to feed 
the ants, and the ants, in 
turn, protect the caterpillars 
from marauding wasps. The 
real news: University of 
Texas entomologist Philip 
DeVries has discovered that 
alarmed caterpillars actually 
send out an audible call to 
the ants much as a rancher 
might call to his dogs when 
wolves are around. 

DeVries detected the call 
after clipping ultrasensitive 
microphones to a paper- 
covered lab tray where 
caterpillars milled about. 
The communication system 
operates something like a 
telegraph: The caterpillars' 
call travels through the 
leaves, branches, and bark 
of a tree rather than through 
the air. As ants receive the 
signal — which, when ampli- 
fied, sounds "like a snare 
drum played with brushes" — 
they gather around the 
caterpillars like a-pack of 

guard dogs protecting their 
charges. As with man and 
dog, "these caterpillars," 
DeVries says, "have evolved 
a specialized system 
for maintaining a profitable 
association with ants." 

— Bill Lawren 



.. Kirk Le/Mar of Beverly 
Hills is on the cutting- edge' 
of hai.r.sfyling — he's .adapt-. 
ingy computers' for use in 
hair salons,. 

Le Mar's New Image 
Salon. System allows . 
clients to try out Cher-style 
cuts or the Madonna look 
before deciding which 
look is right, for them. The 
computer, with. a camera 
attached, stores an image 
of the customer's face; 

clients browse through a 

catalog to select possible 
ha^sl/les, and the comput- 
er displays the face .with' 
the hai r styio at-.achec: to it. 
"Women bring in photos 
of models-arid say, 'I want 
to look like that,'" says 
Jodi Germano-Cataldo, 
owner df ; Shear Ultimate in 
'■ Tewksbury. Massachu- 
setts, who use:!-', the New- 
Image system. "This 
shows whether they'll look 
good in that style or not." 
—Steve IMadis 





True or false: Fire ants 
are useless pests that 
will wantonly attack anything 
within their reach. 

If you live in the Southern 
sections of the United States 
that have recently been 
deluged by fire ants, you 
probably answered true. But 
Texas ASM entomologist 
Kathy Palma sees it differ- 
ently: Fire ants, it turns out, 
have a voracious appetite 
for all kinds of vermin, 
ranging from fleas to mos- 
quito eggs. In a series of lab 
experiments, Palma docu- 
mented fire ants wiping out 
test populations of fleas in 
soil and in different kinds of 
carpet in as little as four 
hours. As fire ants spread 

into urban areas throughout 
the country, they will 
undoubtedly dine on fleas. 
"They are extremely good 
predators, so there's no 
reason to think they wouldn't 
eat fleas," says Palma. 

Palma doesn't recom- 
mend recruiting fire ants to 
hunt down fleas, but she 
points out that they prey on 
a variety of harmful insects 
including the dreaded 
harvester ants, ticks, and 
even mosquito eggs. She 
hopes that if people 
appreciate the ants as pest 
destroyers, it will encourage 
a live-and-let-live attitude. "I 
hope my research will help 
people understand that 
biological control is happen- 
ing in our yards," she says. 
Yet for those humans who 
steadfastly refuse to coexist 


Women whose biologi- 
cal clocks are ticking, 
hear this: The older you are 

when you give birth, the 
more- '.ikely yo.ur child will be 

Psychologist Stanley 
Coren of the University of 
British Columbia found that 
when mothers were be- 
tween the ages of seven- 
teen and twenty-four, they 
gave birth to right-handed 
babies 90 percent of the 
time. Starting at age 
twenty-five, however, moms 
begat 1 1 percent more 
southpaws, with progres- 
sively higher rates 'as the 
mothers' ages increased. 
When women are forty-plus, 
ah- they are twice as likely to 
have left-handed children. 



with stinging fire ants, Palma 
suggests putting away 
the insecticides in favor of 
boiling water poured into 
the ants' nests. "Any sur- 
vivors will take their brood 
and move," she says. 

— Sherry Baker 

Why? Coren speculates 

that as women give birth 
later in life, the added stress 
to the mother's body may 
influence neuropathways in 
an infant's brain that give 
rise to right- or left-hand- 
edness. Alan Searleman. 
professor of psychology at 
St.- Lawrence University 
in Canton, New York, 
agrees. "There can be mul- 
tiple causes" that give 
rise to left-handedness, he 
says. "In some cases it's 
genetic, but birth stress can 
contribute as well." 

Coren says that of all 
animals, only humans pre- 
dominantly use the right- 
hand. Cats and monkeys, 
for example, are apt to use 
both paws equally, while 
humans are right-handed 90 
percent of the time. 

—Paul McCarthy 

rrr ' 

One-sick building: EPA 's ■ 
Washington headquarters. 


Ever since the EPA's 
Washington headquarters 
was renovated in 1988, 
numerous employees say 
they have been choking on 
toxic fumes. Headaches, 
burning lungs, and other 
health disturbances have 
forced more than 40 EPA 
employees to transfer to 
alternative work spaces or 
quit their jobs. According to 
Bill Hirzy, senior scientist at 
the Office of Toxic Sub- 
stances and president of the 
union representing EPA 
employees, a new synthetic 
material installed on the 
premises may be responsi- 
ble. "We suspect the culprit 
could be a compound in 
the carpeting called 
4-phenyclcyclohexene. " 
Why can't the nation's 
environmental watchdog 
keep its own work environ- 
ment safe? "That's a good 
question," says Hirzy. "If we 
can't even save ourselves, 
how can we save the rest of 
the country?" 

— Kathleen McAuliffe 



Wrought of Stainless Steel. 
Accents of 24 Karat Gold and 
Sterling Silver. Hand-set 
Crystal Cabochons. Inserted 
in Crystal-clear Rock. 

i Miii AWTi lm 

the only one 
who could free the magi ca] Excalibur 
. And w" 

1 sculptured with Arthur' 

with fiery red crystals and embellished 
Iver and 24 1 

electroplate, Excalibur is to be removed 
its crystal-clear rock only by the 
destined to possess it. $675. 

The International Arthurian Society 
c /o The Franklin Mint 
Franklin Center, Pennsylvania 19091 
Please enter my order for the authorized 

.■>: King Arthur's Excalibur sword. Crafted of hand- 
polished tempered steel and embellished with 
BtetHng silver and 24 karat gold electroplate. The 
custom-designed display is included at no addi- 

I need send no money now. 1 will be billed in 10 
equal monthly installments of $67.50' each, begin- 
ning prior to shipment. m*b my am «fo us. 

Chemical warfare is as 
old as life itself. It is na- 
ture's gift to the weak or 
vulnerable against threats, 
real or perceived. Millions 
of years of evolution have 
armed legions of plants, in- 
sects, fish, reptiles, amphib- 
ians, and invertebrates with 
biochemica! means of neutral- 
izing enemies or prey by emit- 
ting, squirting, or injecting 
vile-smelling, paralyzing, or 
lethal substances. This is sur- 
vival of the fittest in its most 
elementary form: it is an im- 
perative that, in the animal 
world, transcends morality 
because instinct and reflex — 
not premeditation — regu- 
late animal behavior. 

lil-IMI'itil "I — 

I "The prolifer- 
I ation of 
I chemical 
I and bio- 

1 logical wea- 
pons, and the ability to 
deliver them at long 
ranges will be one of the' 
most important security 
issues of the 1990s and 
of the 21st Century 
Three critical issues are at 
play: First, these weapons 
are relatively easy to pro- 
duce, and an increasing 
number of countries 
around the world are 
acquiring them, As many 
as 20 adversaries already 
possess them and could 
use them against the 
United States and allied 
forces. Second, there 
appears to be decreasing 
prohibition of chemical 
weapons' use, perhaps 
even of biological ones. 
Finally, long-range delivery 
of systems lengthen the 
reach of those who might 
be predisposed to use 
these weapons of mass- 
Vice President of the 
United States 

Nature, however, pales be- 
side our inventiveness. Sav- 
age brews concocted by hu- 
mans can spread disease 
for military goals, make an en- 
emy's air unbreathable and 
foul, seed clouds with sub- 
stances that turn rain into liq- 
uid death. Humans trained pi- 
geons and bats to deliver 
"mini" bombs. They bred mos- 
quitoes contaminated with yel- 
low fever, malaria, and den- 
gue. They cultivated fleas in- 
fected with the plague. 
They spawned ticks carrying 
tularemia and Colorado spot- 
ted fever, They sired house- 
flies tainted with cholera, an- 
thrax, and dysentery. Even 
mice and migrating g< 

have been considered as ve- 
hicles for the delivery of 
death. Venomous snakes 
may be next. These weap- 
ons and their creators trans- 
form nature itself into an in- 
strument of war. 

And we've only just be- 
gun, says H. J. McGeorge, 
president of the Public Safe- 
ty Group, a Virginia-based in- 
ternational security research 
organization. "The face of 
war is about to change in a 
manner unimagined even 
ten years ago. The next dec- 
ade is likely to witness the 
global use of chemical and 
biological weapons in con- 
flicts of all sizes." The ratio- 
nale, says McGeorge, a mu- 

nitions expert and former Se- 
cret Service technical special- 
ist, is that "the use of chemi- 
cal weapons will not win a 
war but might prevent the us- 
er from losing it." 

Equally frightening is the 
ease with which chemical 
and, to a certain extent, bio- 
logical weapons can be ac- 
quired. There's now a poison 
in every caldron. Chemical 
weapons are now available 
not only to major powers but 
to Third World nations as 
well. A study released by the 
U.S. Defense Department in 
1984 listed 14 countries as 
possessing a chemical war- 
fare capability, about ten 
more than had been previous- 

ly estimated. The number 
now exceeds 38 (see map). 
There is strong evidence 
that yet another 15 to 20 na- 
tions are seeking to secure 
chemical weapons. 

No wonder. Chemical 
weapons are easy to make. 
They call neither for high- 
tech resources nor much 
money. In fact, the manufac- 
turing process and neces- 
sary ingredients for nerve 
agents are similar to those 
for common fertilizers and in- 
secticides. And their power 
can bB devastating. Minute 
amounts can become militar- 
ily significant, especially in 
hot or tropical regions 

verely limits the effectiveness 
of besieged forces. 

Now .biochemical technol- 
ogy is entering the weapons 
field. The same technology 
that has resulted in so many 
dramatic improvements in 
care and cure is now capa- 
ble of producing new horrors 
easily transformed into weap- 
ons of choice. Genetic engi- 
neering will further refine the 
art of killing with the develop- 
ment of "designer diseases" 
for which there exists no 
known cure. New poisons 
may be produced from 
once innocuous substances. 
Even the means to alter and 
manipulate human behavior 
and thought are at hand. 

A report issued late in 
1990 by BioWorld Today 
says that Iraq, which has 
signed but never ratified the 
1972 Biological and Toxin 
Weapons Convention, is de- 
veloping a biological arse- 
nal. The convention prohib- 
its the possession of biolog- 
ical weapons but not, sadly, 
research and development. 
Indeed, the convention per- 
mits research into defensive 
biotechnology, despite the 
fine line between defensive 
mechanisms and offensive 
weapons. Biological agents 
capable of spreading ty- 
phoid, cholera, and anthrax 
are said to be in the works at 
laboratories south of Bagh- 

dad, near the village of Sal- 
man Pak. U.S. Army Medical 
Corps scientists themselves 
must now look to genetic engi- 
neeering for the means to 
thwart such threats. In recent 
years, in fact, only the Nation- 
al Institutes of Health has 
exceeded U.S. Department 
or Defense in biotechnology 
research funding. 

The subtlety and sophisti- 
cation of the biochemical 
weapons threat continues to 
grow. But the threat itself is 
not at all new. 

One can safely assume that 
flinging excrement atone an- 
other, a strategy still ob- 
served among primates, 
might have satisfied our an- 
cestors' aggressive drive — 
not to mention their need for 
self-expression. Homo sapi- 
ens has since refined the art 
of mudslinging but the mes- 
sage is the same. Chemistry 
and biology provide us with 
ways of killing each other. 

Around 450 B.C., at the 
height of the Second Pelo- 
ponnesian War, the Spartans 
burned pitch and sulfur to re- 
lease poisonous fumes un- 
der the enemy's city walls, In- 
cendiary chemicals, dub- 
bed Greek fire, were used as 
early as 1200 B.C. Gradually 
refined for use on dry land, 
Greek fire, a precursor of na- 
palm, played a leading role 
in many battles for more 
than a millennium, 

Civil War general Patrick 
Gilmore used Greek fire, caus- 
ing Confederate general Pi- 
erre Beauregard to claim 
that Gilmore had shot "the 
most destructive missiles ev- 
er used in war." 

Nor is biological warfare a 
contemporary phenomenon. 
During the siege of Kaffa in 
1347, the Mongols hurled 

the bodies of plague victims 
over the walls of the Gen- 
oese defenders. Genoese 
ships then carried the dis- 
ease back to Europe, where 
the Black Death promptly 

In North America in the 
Eighteenth century, British mil- 
itary leaders, such as Jeffrey 
Amherst, offered a gift of 
smallpox-infected blankets 
to Native Americans, who 
were particularly susceptible 
to the deadly disease. This 
act ot malevolence cost thou- 
sands of Indian lives. 

In the Thirties, the Japanese, 
at war with China, used bio- 
logical weapons to spread 
plague and famine. They al- 
so tested biological muni- 
tions on tethered prisoners. 
The first wholesale use of 
toxic agents took place in 
World War I when the Ger- 
mans discharged chlorine 
gas on French and British 
troops. French and other forc- 
es responded with "blood 
gases," which prevent the 
transfer of oxygen from the 
blood to body tissue. This 
prompted the Germans to un- 
leash mustard gas, a blister- 
ing agent that consumes the 

flesh. Under attack, U.S. 
troops retaliated with phos- 
gene, a choking gas. When 
the carnage ended in 1918, 
the "war to end all wars" had 
claimed more than 9 million 
lives, with more than 100,000 
of those deaths officially attrib- 
uted to gas attacks. The toll 
is now believed to have 
been considerably higher. 

In 1925, seven years after 
the end of the Great War, an 
international agreement 
known as the Geneva Proto- 
col prohibited the use of bac- 
teriological and chemical 
weapons — but not produc- 
tion or stockpiling. The Ge- 
neva Protocol did not pre- 
vent the French from drop- 
ping mustard-filled bombs in 
Morocco, nor did the Italians 
shy away from deploying mus- 
tard gas in the 1935-36 war 
against Abyssinia (Ethiopia). 

In 1939, in search of dead- 
lier, swifter poisons, the Ger- 
mans also invented two 
nerve gases, Tabun and sa- 
rin, both colorless, almost 
odorless, both capable of 
penetrating the skin and caus- 
ing death in less than two min- 
utes. Deterred because the 
Allies themselves possessed 
chemical weapons, the Na- 
zis did not use theirs against 

Allied forces during World 
War II. They used them in- 
stead to murder millions in 
death camps. 

At war's end in 1945, the 
Soviets seized large stocks 
of nerve agents and other 
raw chemical warfare prod- 
ucts, as well as a fully 
equipped — and staffed — 
Tabun factory, which they 
transferred to the USSR 
lock, stock, and barrel. 

During the Fifties and Six- 
ties, military research pro- 
duced still meaner nerve 
agents, including the "V" 
series nerve agent, pro- 
duced by both the United 
States and the Soviets, and 
dreaded because ot its su- 
pertoxicity, persistence, and 
environmental stability, The 
Fifties also witnessed the 
development of mentally in- 
capacitating but nonlethal 

Tear gases and herbi- 
cides (defoliants) were also 
extensively released by the 
United States in Vietnam. Ar- 
guably, these .were "nonle- 
thal" and authorized under 
the Geneva Protocol. Of all 
the chemicals used to strip 
'.Sssssi:: from the past: Soldiers 
during World War i line up wear- 
ing their protective clothings. 

the tropical lorest bare, one that cre- 
ated the greatest bitterness was the di- 
oxin-laced Agent Orange. 

The defoliant sent vegetation on a 
self-destructive binge. Plants literally ex- 
ploded, leaving a surrealistic landscape 
where weeds had grown into bushes 
and where trees, fractured and splin- 
tered, bowed down by the weight of 
their fruit, lay rotting in the foul-smell- 
ing jungle. The effect of Agent Orange 
on humans, especially its alleged car- 
cinogenic effect, remains a matter of 

co ntroversy today 


By the end of the Seventies, a growing 
number of intelligence and press re- 
ports hinted that chemicals were being 
regularly deployed by Soviet-support- 
ed forces in a "variety of minor con- 
flicts. " A particularly nasty batch of mus- 
tard gas had already been used by 
Egypt during the 1962-67 Yemen war, 
an occurrence that took several 
months to surface in the press. 

Another report claimed that Laotian 
troops, aided and abetted by the Sovi- 
ets and the Vietnamese, had been us- 
ing agents of biological origin ("Yel- 
low Rain") since 1975 against the 
H'mongs, a tribal people dwelling in the 
mountainous regions of Laos. 

In Kampuchea (Cambodia), Vietnam- 
ese forces were reported to have used 

chemical agents against the troops of 
"Democratic Kampuchea." 

In Afghanistan, strong circumstan- 
tial evidence indicates that Soviet and 
"loyal" Afghan forces waged periodic 
chemical war against the mujahedeen, 
the ragtag band of tough, iron-willed 
nationalist rebels. 

Iran reported that between 1983 and 
1 984 Iraq had carried out more than 31 
chemical attacks against Iran. Interna- 
tional protest did not prevent Iraq from 
repeating the deed until the recent 
break in hostilities. Nor did it discour- 
age Iran from readying to respond 
in kind. 

Iraq's invasion of Kuwait last August 
and Saddam Hussein's own military pro- 
clivities have rekindled old fears. Ac- 
cording to a recent communique by the 
Jaffee Center for Strategic Studies at 
Tel Aviv University in Israel, Iraq has 
"emerged as a crucial country of the 
90's, not only for Israel but for the area 
as a whole. 

Iraq emerged from its war with Iran 
with the region's largest and best 
equipped armed forces, under a firmly 
ensconced leader who has proven ca- 
pable of using them ruthlessly. Of all the 
Arab states, Iraq appears most likely 
(as it proved in Iran and against its own 
people, the Kurds) to move the Middle 
East firmly into the nonconventional are- 
na. [Chemical weapons] are a virtually 

indispensable component of a renewed 
Eastern front." 

Seventy-two years after the end of 
World War I, despite the Geneva Pro- 
tocol and the 1972 convention, a grow- 
ing number of nations have steadily de- 
veloped an appetite for higher forms of 
killing. That appetite is voracious, with 
new and ever deadlier weapons being 

brought to the table. 


We are entering an age of "novel weap- 
ons." That seemingly innocuous 
phrase encapsulates the dawning era 
of biochemical weapons unparalleled in 
their viciousness, tenacity, and ability 
to penetrate even the most carefully con- 
sidered defenses. Careful consider- 
ation, in fact, might well lead to the 
conclusion that there is no effective de- 
fense against biochemical attack. 

For one thing, effective defense re- 
quires that you know what you're defend- 
ing against. But modern technology is 
yielding so large and disparate a vari- 
ety of chemical and biological agents 
that a uniform defense becomes impos- 
sible to achieve. 

Gas masks and protective clothing 
worn to ward off mustard gas, for ex- 
ample, may be useless against new 
chemical weapons engineered to pen- 
etrate even the most tightly woven 
fabrics, the most impermeable seals 
and gaskets. Vaccination has long 
been explored 'as a possible defense 
against viral attacks; yet how do we de- 
termine which viruses to vaccinate 
against? How do we develop vaccines 
to protect us from new viruses devel- 
oped in weapons laboratories? Sup- 
pose a virus is developed that does not 
respond to vaccines? 

As we grow more capable of manip- 
ulating genetic and other material, so 
do the capabilities of biochemical weap- 
ons grow more fearsome. Imagine a 
weapon whose initial symptoms — a 
rash, perhaps — imply one course of treat- 
ment. Upon application of the appropri- 
ate treatment, though, the weapon re- 
veals its true nature, unleashing a whol- 
ly different variety of systemic attack. 
How do you defend against such a 
weapon? You don't, because you can't. 

Even detecting the use of biochemi- 
cal weapons grows problematic. Much 
effort and research has been applied 
to the development of "biosensors," 
materials that use living organisms to de- 
tect the presence of chemical agents. 
In theory, biosensing devices serve as 
warning beacons, alerting troops in the 
field to the need to don protective cloth- 
ing. All of which assumes that the ene- 
my will use weapons the sensors "rec- 
ognize," and against which protective 
clothing forms an effective shield. 

None of the defenses take into ac- 
count the sheer impossibility of protect- 
ing large civilian populations, suscep- 

COr-riNUED ON page 111 


Probing the boundaries of 

physics, a trio of mavericks is tapping the 

hotbed of force found in vacuum 


Imagine a world in which end- 
less, nonpolluting, and virtu- 
ally free energy powers our 
cilies, cars, and homes. En- 
vision laptop computers 
more powerful than today's 
largest, most sophisticated 
mainframes, and tiny X-ray 
machines that can enter the 
body and kill tumors without 

50 OMNI 

harming surrounding cells. 
All this and more may be 
possible within the next ten 
years, according to physicist 
Hal Puihoff. currently with the 
Institute for Advanced Stud- 
ies at Austin, Texas. The 
source of these marvels? 
Something Puthoff calls zero 
point energy — the abundant 

power that he says can be 
found in the vacuum of 
space. Puthoff's articles on 
the subject have been pub- 
lished in the prestigious Phys- 
ical Review. And he has at- 
tracted heavy-hitting busi- 
ness associates, including 
Ken Shoulders, the man cred- 
ited with developing much of 

the technology for microcir- 
cuits. as well as superrich Tex- 
as entrepreneur Bill Church, 
Rumor has it that their new 
company, Jupiter Technolo- 
gies, may soon try to manu- 
facture zero point energy ma- 
chines. There's more: Zero 
point energy could be the 
Rosetta stone of physics, ex- 

During the Casimir 
effect in a 

m, objects 
e together, 
producing enormou. 
heat and energy. 
Another force to be 
reckoned with: 
Electronics whiz 
Ken Shoulders. 

plaining everything from grav- 
ity to atoms to the origin of 
the cosmos itself. 

In a sense, Puthoff s 
search for order in the uni- 
verse started 20 years .ago, 
when he was a freshly mint- 
ed Ph.D. from Stanford Uni- 
versity. One day, the physi- 
cist now explains, he was 
thinking about tachyons, hy- 
pothetical particles that ap- 
pear to travel backward in 
time. If the particles existed, 
he reasoned, they might be 
the "missing link" that al- 
lowed psychics — if they 
were not frauds— to intuit 
events at distant locations or 
future times. Puthoff sought 

funding to study the problem 
and wound up as head of a 
new parapsychology re- 
search program at the Stan- 
ford Research Institute, now 
known as SRI International. 
Studying telekinesis and ESP 
was intriguing, Puthoff says. 
Yet in 1985, after 13 years at 
SRI, Puthoff was ready to 
make a change. 

Enter Bill Church. An ex- 
math major from the Univer- 
sity of Texas, Church drop- 
ped out of college when his 
father died. By the mid-Eight- 
ies, the trim, personable en- 
trepreneur had made mil- 
lions with a regional chain of 
iriod-cnicken restaurants, Ea- 

If visionary 

physicist Hal Puthoff is proved 

right, we may soon 

have a new, nonpollutlng 

energy source. 

How? By tapping the force of 

random fluctuations 

that Jostle atomic particles 

within a 

"Own the ga^lfPeelthe power " 



to vti^- 


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Please send me The Crystal Ball, presented by Jeane 

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ger for new challenges, ihc energetic 
Church vowed to spend his wealth pro- 
moting the kind of high-risk, potentially 
high-payoff research that government 
and corporate bureaucrats were too un- 
imaginative to fund. 

To that end he founded the Institute 
for Advanced Studies, housed in a two- 
room office in a new building along the 
Capital of Texas Highway in Austin. 
Then he lured Puthoff, also a respect- 
ed laser scientist, away from SRI. 

Soon after Puthoff arrived in Austin, 
he and Church recruited a third mem- 
ber to their team: star inventor and elec- 
tronics genius Ken Shoulders. A born 
tinkerer, Shoulders wanted a new re- 
search project, something that would 
probe the unknown regions at the bor- 
ders of physics and electronics, where 
strange and wondrous discoveries 
might yet be made. He also needed 
some funding. Puthoff and Church, on 
the other hand, wanted someone who 
could turn the theoretical work of the in- 
stitute into nuts-and-bolts technology. 
When the three sat down to ponder 
their first project, they came up with an 
impressive goar exploring ihe vacuum, 
referred to by some early physicists as 
"the tranquil void." 

The institute trio knew that vacuums 
were not really empty and certainly nev- 
er tranquil. In fact, most physicists cast- 

ing their eyes toward the cosmos be- 
lieve that the vacuum is a hotbed of forc- 
es. Phantom particles flicker into exist- 
ence and then disappear. "Empty" 
space itself seethes with what physi- 
cists call vacuum fluctuations: vast 
amounts of energy that suddenly burst 
forth, jiggling particles to and fro. One 
fluctuation is not very powerful, but 
cumulatively they can be intense. In 
fact, physicists John Wheeler and Rich- 
ard Feynman calculated that there is 
enough energy in the vacuum of a sin- 
gle light bulb to boil all the seas. 

It was City College physicist Timothy 
Boyer of New York; however, whose 
work convinced Puthoff that the vacu- 
um was a good place for the institute 
to begin. Most physicists, Boyer point- 
ed out, tried to explain the somewhat 
random movements of atomic particles 
through the theories of quantum phys- 
ics. Quantum physics states that even 
under precise conditions, atomic par- 
ticles may assume any one of a variety 
of positions. To determine with greater 
certainty whefe a particle could be 
found, however, physicists developed 
"probability equations." The equations 
predicted ihe likelihood ol any given par- 
ticle landing in any given place. 

Boyer held a different point of view. 
Perhaps, he suggested, the uncertain 
nature of the subatomic realm was due 

not to the nebulous mathematics of prob- 
ability equations but rather to vacuum 
fluctuations. We could not pin down the 
location of subatomic particles, Boyer 
suggested, because vacuum fluctua- 
tions jiggled them around. 

Puthoff felt Boyer's notion could be 
used to explain other vexing problems 
as well. Writing in Physical Review D, 
Puthoff suggested that the zero point en- 
ergy of the vacuum might prevent at- 
oms from collapsing, allowing the 
world as we know it to be. "According 
to classical physics," Puthoff says, 
"electrons should radiate their energy 
as they circle in their orbits. Eventually 
they should drop into the nucleus like 
a satellite falling back to Earth. Quan- 
tum mechanics never really explains 
why this does not happen." 

Zero point energy does. According 
to Puthoff's theory, electrons do radiate 
their energy away as they circle in 
their orbits. But they also absorb 
enough energy from vacuum fluctua- 
tions to make up for the loss. Calcu- 
lations presented in Physical Review ap- 
pear to back him up. Says Puthoff, "It 
seems that the stability of matter itself 
depends on the zero point energy sea." 

Puthoff's next Physical Review paper 
was even more daring: It attempted to 
rewrite the theory of gravity proposed 
by Einstein himself. "Einstein described 

"My client continues, to invoke the Fifth Amendment, but this time with an exclamation point. " 



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gravity as a warping of space-time 
caused by the mass of objects within 
it," Puthoff says. To understand Ein- 
stein's version, imagine the fabric of 
space-time as a taut rubber dia- 
phragm. Place any given weight in the 
diaphragm and it makes an indentation. 
Roll a marble onto the diaphragm. No 
matter how the marble is rolled, it ulti- 
mately winds up at the weight. This, ac- 
cording to Einstein, is how gravity 
works. Objects bend space-time just as 
the weight bends the rubber dia- 
phragm, so two objects "roll together" 
with a force that depends on the ob- 
jects' mass and distance. 

"This shows how gravity acts," 
Puthoff says, : 'but doesn't really explain 
the mechanism behind it." That's 
where zero point energy comes in. If 
two physical bodies are relatively 
close, he theorizes, the first shields the 
second from zero point energy coming 
from its direction; in a similar fashion, 
the second objecl will shield the first. 
The objects will nonetheless continue 
to be pressured by zero point energy 
coming from all other directions. The 
two bodies thus move toward each oth- 
er in what scientists have dubbed the 
Casimir effect, named after Hendrik B. 
G. Casimir, the Dutch physicist who 
first described the phenomenon. Grav- 
ity is the result, according to Puthoff. 

It is the Casimir effect, Puthoff be- 
lieves, that may help us extract zero 
point energy from the void. Puthoff 
gives an example: Bring two smooth met- 
al plates extremely close together, he 
explains, and they seem to attract 
each other so strongly that they are vir- 
tually welded to each other. Move 
them still closer and they collide with a 
metaphorical boom, generating enor- 
mous heat. Use that heat energy, and 
the conversion of vacuum energy to us- 
able energy has occurred. 

This scheme, first proposed by vet- 
eran California physicist Robert Forward 
in Physical Review, has a problem: 
Once the plates collide, they can no 
longer be used to generate energy, 
becoming a sort of one-shot device. "To 
recycle the generator," Puthoff ex- 
plains, "one would have to return the 
plates to their original positions; that 
would require as much energy as the 
machine produced in the first place. As 
a result, not even break-even operation 
could be achieved." 

His solution: "an inexhaustible sup- 
ply of such devices, each to be discard- 
ed after the Casimir collapse." Puthoff 
concedes this would not be possible 
with metal plates but suggests that en- 
gineers try designing zero point ener- 
gy machines with a cold, charged plas- 
ma, or gas. "The Casimir effect would 

pinch the plasma together," Puthoff 
says, "and energy in the form of heat 
and condensed, charged particles 
would result." 

At least one such device, Puthoff 
says, may be in the works. Moscow phys- 
icist Aleksandr Chernetsky has built a 
plasma generator that reportedly takes 
700 watts of electricity from a wall sock- 
et and gives back 3,500 watts, creat- 
ing a little more than three horsepower 
out of nothing. The Soviet government 
was impressed enough to back his re- 
search with several hundred thousand 
dollars worth of equipment. 

"I went to the Soviet Union to look at 
Chernetsky's work," Puthoff says. "I 
couldn't tell in a couple of days wheth- 
er his equipment really works or wheth- 
er there is some fallacy in his experi- 
mental design. But it is plausible that it 
might be extracting zero point energy." 

Whether or not Chernetsky's power 
system works, other equipment appar- 
ently based on zero point energy and 
the Casimir effect is under develop- 
ment. The inventor: Ken Shoulders, who 
hopes to create the next generation of 
circuits for laptop computers, tele- 
phones, and large-screen TVs. 

Shoulders hopes to create these new 
appliances through a phenomenon he 
has discovered and put to use. Called 
condensed charge technology, or CCT, 

MIT 1 ' 

"It has come to my attention that your only function here is to operate the snack machine. " 



Across the lagoon an eager new life was forming, draw- 
ing its spectrum of colors from -a palette more vivid than 
the sun's. Soon after dawn, when Johnson woke in Cap- 
tain Galloway's cabin behind the bridge of the Prospero, 
he watched the lurid hues, cyanic blues and crimsons, play 
ing against the celling above his bunk. Reflected in the me- 
tallic surface of the lagoon, ihe tropical foliage seemed to 
concentrate the Caribbean sunlight, painting on the 
warm air a screen of electric tones thai Johnson had only 
seen on the nightclub facades of Miami and Veracruz. 

He stepped onto the tilting bridge of the stranded freight- 
er, aware that the island's vegetation had again surged for- 
ward during the night, as if it had miraculously found a 
means of .converting darkness into these brilliant leaves and 
blossoms. Shielding his eyes from the glare, he searched 
the six hundred yards of empty 
beach that encircled Ihe Prospero, 
disappointed that there was no 
sign of Dr, Chambers' rubber inflat- 
able. For the past three mornings, 
when he woke after an uneasy 
night, he had seen the craft 
beached by the inlet of the lagoon. 
Shaking off the overlit dreams thai 
rose from the contaminafed waters, 
he would gulp down a cup of cold 
coffee, jump from the stern rail, and 
set off between the pools of leaking 
chemicals in search of the Ameri- 
can biologist. It pleased Johnson 
that she was so openly impressed 
by this once barren island, a lefto- 
ver of nature seven miles from, the 
northeast coast of Puerto Rico. In his modest way he 
knew that he was responsible for the transformation of the 
nondescript atoll, scarcely more than a forgotten garbage 
dump left behind by the American Army after World War 
II. No one, in Johnson's short life, had ever been impressed 
by him, and the biologist's silent wonder gave him the 
first sense of achievement he had ever known. 

Johnson had learned her name from the labels on Ihe 
scientific stores in the inflatable. However, he had not yet 
approached or even spoken to her, embarrassed by his 
rough manners and shabby seaman's clothes, and the en- 
grained chemical stench that banned him from sailors' 
bars all over the Caribbean. Now. when she failed to ap- 
pear on the fourth morning, he regretted all the more that 
he had never worked up the courage to introduce himself. 

Through the acid-sfreaked windows of the bridge 
house he stared at the terraces of flowers thai hung from 
the. forest wall. A month earlier, when he first arrived at the 
island, struggling wilh the locked helm of the listing freight- 
er, there had been no more than a few stunted palms grow- 
ing among the collapsed army huts and water lanks bur- 
ied in the dunes. But already, for reasons that Johnson pre- 
ferred not to consider, a wholly new vegetation had 
sprung to life. The palms rose like flagpoles into the vivid 
Caribbean air, pennants painted with a fresh green sap. 
Around them the sandy floor was thick with flowering 
vines and ground ivy, blue leaves like dappled metal foil, 
as if some midnight gardener had watered them with a se- 
cret plant elixir as Johnson lay asleep in his bunk. 
He put on Galloway's peaked cap and examined him- 
self In the greasy mirror. Stepping 
onto the open deck behind the 
wheelhouse, he inhaled the acrid 
chemical air of the lagoon. At least 
it masked the odors of the captain's 
cabin, a rancid bouquet of ancient 
sweat, cheap rum, and diesel oil. 
He had thought seriously of aban- 
doning Galloway's cabin and return- 
ing to his hammock in the forecas- 
tle, but despite the stench he felt 
that he owed it to himself to remain 
in ihe cabin. The moment that Gal- 
loway, with a last disgusted curse, 
Had stepped into. the freighter's sin- 
gle lifeboat, he, Johnson, had be- 
come the captain of this doomed 
vessel. He had watched Galloway, 
the four Mexican crewmen, and the weary Portuguese en- 
gineer row off into the dusk, promising himself that he 
would sleep in the caplain's cabin and take his meals at 
the captain's table. After five years at sea, working as cab- 
in boy and deck hand on the lowest grade of chemical 
waste carrier, he had a command of his own, this antique 
freighter, even if the Prospero's course was the vertical one 
to the seabed of the Caribbean, 

Behind the funnel the Liberian flag of convenience 
hung in tatters, its fabric rotted by the acid air. Johnson 
stepped onto the stern ladder, steadying himself against 
the sweating hull plates, and jumped into the shallow wa- 
ter. Careful to find his feet, he waded through the bilious 
green foam that leaked from the steel drums he had jetti- 
soned from the freighter's deck. 





When he reached Ihe 
clear sand above the tide 
line he wiped the emerald 
dye from his jeans and 
sneakers. Leaning to star- 
board in the lagoon, the 
Prospero resembled an ex- 
ploded paint box. The 
drgms of chemical waste 
on the fore deck still 
dripped their efflu- 
ent through the 
scuppers. The 
more sinister be- 
lowdecks cargo- 
nameless organic 
by-products tha" 
Captain Gallowa} 
had been bribed to carry 
and never entered into his 
manifest — had disscivoc 
the rusty plates and spilled 
an eerie spectrum of phos- 
phorescent blues and indi- 
gos into the lagoon below, 

Frightened of these chem- 
icals, which every port in 
the Caribbean had reject- 
ed, Johnson had begun to 
jettison the cargo after run- 
ning the freighter aground. 
But the elderly dieseis had 
seized and the winch had 
jarred to. a halt, leaving on- 
ly a few of the drums on the 
nearby sand with their 
death's-head warnings and 
eroded seams. 

Johnson set off along the 
shore, searching the sea be- 
yond the' inlet of the lagoon 
for any sign of Dr. Cham- 
bers. Everywhere a de- 
ranged horticulture' was run- 
ning riot. Vivid new shoots 
pushed past the metal de- 
bris of old ammunition box- 
es, filing cabinets, and 
truck tires. Strange grasp- 
ing vines clambered over 
the scarlet caps of giant fun- 
gi, their white stems as 
thick as Sailors' bones. 
Avoiding them ; Johnson 
walked toward an old staff 
car that sat in an open 
glade between the palms.-. 
Wheelless, its military mark- 
ings obliterated by the rain 

it had settled n- 
to the sand, vines encircling 
its roof and windshield. 

Deciding to rest In the 
car, which once perhaps 
had driven ah American genr 
eral around the training 
camps of Puerto Rico, he 
tore away the vines that 
had wreathed themselves 
und the driv- 
door pillar. As 
sat behind the 
ering wheel it 
;urred to John- 
that he might 
/e the freighter 
) set up camp 
on the island. Nearby lay 
the galvanized iron roof of a 
barrack hut; enough -mate- 
rial to. build a beach house 
on the. safer, seaward side 
of the island'. 

But Johnson was aware 
of ah unstated bond be- 
tween himself and the der- 
elict freighter. He remem- 
bered the last desperate voy- 
age of the Prospero, which 
he had joined in Veracruz, 
after being duped by Cap- 
tain Galloway The short voy- 
age to Galveston, ihe debar- 
kation port, would pay him 
enough to ship as a deck 
passenger on ah interisland 
boat heading for the Baha- 
mas, It had been three 
years since he had seen his 
widowed mother in Nassau, 
living inaplywood 
bungalow by the 
airport with he- in- 
valid boyfriend. 

Needless to 
say, they had nev- 
er berthed at Gal- 
veston, Miami, or 
any other of the ports 
where they had tried to un- 
load their cargo. The crude- 
ly sealed cylinders- of chem- 
ical waste products, suppos- 
edly en route to a reprocess- 
ing plant in southern Texas, 
had begun to leak before 
they left Veracruz. Captain 
Galloway's temper, like, his 

erratic seamanship- and con- 
sumption of rum and tequi- 
la, increased steadily as he 
realized that the Mexican 
shipping. agent had aban- 
doned them to the seas. Al- 
most certainly the agent 
had pocketed the monies al- 
located for reprocessing 
and found it more profitable 
to let the ancient freighter, 
now refused entry to Vera- 
cruz, sail up and down the 
Gulf of Mexico until her cor- 
roded keelsenther conve- 
niently to the bottom. For 
two months they had 
cruised forlornly from one 
port to- another, boarded by 
hostile maritime police and 
customs officers, 
public health offi- 
cials, and journal- 
ists alerted to the 
possibility of a ma- 
jor ecological dis- 
aster, At Kir-gstci, 
Jamaica, a televi- 
sion launch trailed them to 
the ten-mile limit; at Santo 
Domingo a spotter planeof 
the Dominican Navy was 
vva ting for them when they 
tried to. slip into harbor un- 
der the cover of darkness. 
Greenpeace powerboats in- 
tercepted them outside Tam- 
pa, Florida, when Captain 
Galloway tried to dump 
part of his cargo. Firing 
flares across the bridge of 
the freighter, the 
U.S. Coast Guard 
dispatched them 
into the Gulf of 
Mexico in time to 
meet the tail of Hur- 
ricane Clara. 
. When at last 
they recovered from the 
storm the cargo had shift- 
ed, and the Prospero listed- 
ten degrees to starboard. 
Fuming chemicals leaked 
across the decks from the 
fractured seams- of the 
waste drums, boiled on the 
surface of the sea, and 
sent up a cloud of acrid va- 

por that left Johnson and 
the Mexican crewmen 
coughing through make- 
shift face masks, arid Cap- 
tain Galloway barricading 
himself into his cabin with 
his tequila bottle... 

First Officer Pereira had 
saved the day, rigging up a 
hosepipe that sprayed the 
leaking drums- with a torrent 
of water, but by then the 
Prospero was taking. in the' 
Sea through its strained 
plates. When they sighted 
Puerto Rico the captain had 
not even bothered to set a 
course for port. Propping 
himself against the helm, a 
bottle in each hand, he sig- 
naled Pereira to 
cut the engines. 
in a self-pitying 
monologue, he 
cursed the Mexi- 
can shipping 
agent, the U.S. 
Coast Guard, the 
world's agrochemists, and 
their despicable science 
that had deprived him of his 
command. Lastly he 
cursed Johnson for being 
so foolish ever to step 
aboard this ill-fated ship. As 
the Prospero lay doomed in 
the water, Pereira appeared 
with his already packed suit- 
case, and the captain or- 
dered the Mexicans to low- 
er the lifeboat, it was then 
that Johnson made his de- 
cision to remain onboard. 
All his life he had failed to im- 
pose himself on anything — 
running errands as a six- 
year-old for the Nassau air- 
port shoeblacks, cadging 
pennies for his mother 
from the irritated tourists, en- 
during the years of school 
where he had scarcely 
learned to read and write, 
working as a dishwasher at 
the beach restaurants, forev- 
er conned out of his wages 
by the thieving managers. 
He had always reacted to 
events, never initiated any- 




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~V;'m ■ .: :■ 



thing on his.own. Now, for 
the first time, he could be- 
come the captain of the 
Prospero and master of his 
own fate. Long before Gal- 
loway's curses faded into 
the dusk, Johnson had 
leapt down the ladder into 
the engine room. 

AS life elderly diesels ral- 
lied themselves 
for the last time, 
Johnson returned 
to the bridge: He 
listened to the pro- 
peller's- tired but 
steady beat 

against the dark 
ocean and slowly turned 
the Prospero toward the 
northwest: Five hundred 
miles away were the Baha- 
mas and an endless archi- 
pelago of secret harbors. 
Somehow he would get rid. 
of the leaking drums and 
even, perhaps, ply for hire 
between the islands, renam- 
ing the old tub after his moth- 
er; Velvet Mae. Meanwhile 
Captain Johnson stood 
proudly on the bridge, over- 
size cap on his head, three 
hundred tons of steel deck 
obedient beneath his feet, 

By dawn the next day he 
was completely lost on an 
open sea, During- the night 
the freighter's list had in- 
creased. Belowdecks the 
leaking chemicals had 
etched their way through 
the hull plates, and a phos- 
phorescent steam envel- 
oped the bridge. The en- 
gine room was a knee- 
deep vat of acid brine, a 
poisonous vapor rising 
through the ventilators and 
coating every rail and deck 
plate with a lurid slime. 
Then, . as Johnson 
searched desperately for 
enough timber to build a 
raft,: he saw the old World 
War II garbage island sev- 
en miles from the Puerto Ri- 
can coast. The lagoon inlet 
was unguarded by the U.S. 

Navy or Greenpeace speed- 
boats. He steered the Pros- 
pero across the calm sur- 
face and let the freighter set- 
tle into the shallows. The in- 
rush of water smothered the 
cargo in the hold. Abie to 
breathe again, Johnson 
rolled into Captain Gal- 
loway's bunk, made a 
spaGe for himself 
among the empty 
bottles, and slept 
nis first dreamless 

Hey, you! Are 
<ou all right?" A 
woman's hand pounded on 
the roof of the staff car. 
"What are you doing in 

Johnson woke, with a 
start, lifting his head from 
the steering wheel. While 
he slept the lianas- had en- 
veloped the car, climbing' 
up the roof and windshield 
pillars. Vivid green tendrils 
looped themselves- around 
his left hand, tying his wrist 
to the rim of the wheel. 

Wiping his face, he saw 
the American biologist 
peering at him through the 
leaves, as if he were the in- 
mate of some bizarre zoo 
whose cages were the bod- 
ies of abandoned motor- 
cars. He tried to free himself 
and pushed against the 
driver's door. 

"Sit back! I'll 
cut you loose." 
She slashed at 
the vines withher 
clasp knife, reveal- 
ing her fierce and 
determined wrist. 
When Johnson stepped on- 
to the ground she held his 
shoulders, looking him up 
and down with a thorough 
eye. She was no more than 
thirty, three years older 
than himself, but to 
Johnson she seemed as 
self-possessed and remote 
as the Nassau schoolteach- 

ers. Yet her mouth was 
more relaxed than those 
pursed lips of his child- 
hood, asTf she were genu- 
inely concerned for John- 
son. "You're all right," she in- 
formed him. "But I wouldn't 
go for too many rides in 
that car," 

She strolled away from 
Johnson, her hands press- 
ing the -burn is had copper 
trunks of the palms, feeling 
the urgent pulse of awaken- 
ing life. Around her shoul- 
ders was slung a canvas 
bag holding a clipboard, 
sample jars, a camera, and 
"reels of film. "'My name's 
Christine Chambers," she 
'called out to 
Johnson. "I'mcar- 
rying out a botani- 
cal project on this' 
island. Have you 
come from the 
Stranded ship?" 

"I'm. the cap- 
tain," Johnson told herwith- 
out deceit. He reached into 
the car and retrieved his 
peaked cap from- the eager 
embrace of the vines, dust- 
ed it off, and placed it on 
his head at what he hoped 
was a rakish angle.. "She's 
not a wreck— I beached her 
here for repairs." 

"Really? For repairs?" 
Christine Chambers 
watched him archly, finding 
him at least as in- 
triguing as the 
giant scarlet- 
capped fungi. "So 
you're the cap- 
tain. But where's 
the crew?" 
"They aban- 
doned ship." Johnson was 
glad that he could speak so 
honestly. He liked this attrac- 
tive biologist and the way 
she took a close interest in 
the island, "There were cer- 
tain problems, with the 

"I bet there were. You 
were lucky to get here in 

one piece;" She took out a 
notebook and jotted, down 
some observation on 
Johnson, glancing at his pu- 
pils and lips. "Captain, 
would you like a sandwich? 
I've brought a picnic 
lunch — you' look as if you 
could use a square meal." 
"Well ..." Pleased by 
her use ot his title, Johnson 
followed her to the beach, 
where the inflatable. sat on 
the sand. Clearly she had 
been delayed by the 
weight of stores: a bell 
tent, .plastic coolers, car- 
tons-of canned- food, and a 
small office cabinet. 
Johnson had survived on a 
diet of salt beef, co- 
la, and oatmeal bis- 
cuits he cooked 
oh the galley 

For all the equip- 
ment, she was in 
no hurry to unload 
the stores, as if unsure of 
sharing the island: with 
Johnson, or perhaps ponder- 
ing a different approach to 
her project, one that in- 
volved the participation of 
the human population of 
the island. Trying to reas- 
sure her, as they divided 
the sandwiches, he de- 
scribed the last voyage of 
the Prospero, and the dis- 
aster of the leaking chemi- 
cals. She nodded while he 
spoke, as if she already 
knew something of the sto- 
ry. "It sounds to me like a 
great feat of seamanship," 
she complimented him. 
"The crew who abandoned 
ship — as it happens, they re- 
ported that she went down 
near Barbados. One of 
them, Galloway I think he 
was called, claimed they'd 
spent a month in an open 

"Galloway?" Johnson as- 
sumed the pursed lips of 
the Nassau schoolmarms. 
"One of my less reliable 


men. So no one 

looking for 

"No, Absolutely 
no one." 

"And they think 
she's gone down?" 

"Right to the bot- 
tom. Everyone in Barbados 
is relieved there's no pollu- 
tion. Those tourist beaches, 
you know. " 

"They're important. And 
no one in Puerto. Rico 
thinks she's here?" 

"No one except me. The 
island is my research proj- 
ect," she explained. "I 
teach. biology at San Juan 
University, but 1 really want 
to work at Harvard. I can 
tell you, lectureships are 
hard to come by. Some- 
thing very interesting .is hap- 
pening here,: with a little 
luck . . ." 

"It is interesting," John- 
son agreed. There was a 
conspiratorial note to Dr. 
Christine's' voice that made 
him uneasy. "A lot 
of old army equip- 
ment is buried 
here — I'm thinking 
of "building a 
house on tile- 

"A good idea . . . 
even if it takes you four or 
five months. I'll" help you out 
with any food you need. But 
be careful." Dr. Christine 
pointed to the weal on his 
arm, a temporary- reaction 
against some invading tox- 
in in the vine sap. "There's 
something else that's inter- 
esting about this island, 
isn't there?" 

"Well ..." Johnson 
stared at the acid stains 
etching through the. Pros- 
pero's hull and spreading 
across the lagoon. He had 
tried not to think of his re- 
sponsibility for these danger- 
ous and unstable chemi- 
cals. "There are a few oth- 
er things going on here." ' 

gil "A few other 

things?" Dr; Chris- 
tine lowered her 
voice. "Look, John- 
son, you're sitting 
in the middle of an 
amazing biologi- 
cal experiment. 
No one would allow it to hap- 
pen anywhere in the world— 
if they knew, the U.S. Navy 
would move in this after- 

"Would they take away 
the ship?" 

"They'd take it away and 
sink it in the nearest ocean 
trench, then scorch the is- 
land with flamethrowers." 
"And what about me?" 
"I wouldn't like to say. It 
might depend on how ad- 
vanced ..." She held his 
shoulder reassuringly, 
aware that her vehemence 
had shocked him. "But 
there's no reason why they 
should find out. Not for a 
while, and by then it won't 
matter, I'm not exaggerat- 
ing when I say 
that you've proba- 
bly created anew 
kind of life." 

As they unloaded 
the stores John- 
son reflected on 
her words. He had 
guessed that the chemicals 
leaking from the Prospero 
had set off the accelerated 
growth^ and that the toxic re- 
agents might equally be af- 
fecting himself. In Gal- 
loway's cabin mirror he. in- 
spected the hairs on his 
chin and any suspicious 
moies. The weeks at sea, 
inhaling the acrid fumes, 
had left him with raw lungs 
and throat, and an 
erratic appetite, 
but he had felt bet- 
ter since coming 
ashore. He 

watched Christine 
step into a pair of 
thig.h-iength rub- 

ber boots and move into 
the shallow water, ladle in 
hand, looking at the plant 
and animal life of the la- 
goon. She filled several 
specimen jars with the phos- 
phorescent water and lock- 
ed them into the cabinet in- 
side the tent. "Johnson— 
you couldn't let me see the 
cargo manifest?" 

"Captain . . . Galloway 
took it with him. He didn't 
list the real cargo." 

"I bet he didn't." Chris- 
tine pointed to the vermilion- 
shelled crabs that scuttled 
through the vivid filaments 
of kelp, floating like 
threads of blue electric ca- 
'ble. "Have you no- 
ticed? There are 
no dead fish or 
crabs— and you'd 
expect to seehun- 
dreds. That was 
the first thing I spot- 
ted. And it isn't 
just the crabs — you look pret- 
ty healthy ..." 

"Maybe I'll be stronger?" 
Johnson flexed his sturdy 

"... in a complete 
daze, mentally, but I imag- 
inethatwill change. Mean- 
while, can you take me on- 
board? I'd like to visit the 

"Dr. Christine ..." 
Johnson held her arm, try- 
ing to restrain this deter- 
mined woman. He looked 
at her clear skin and strong 

"It's too dangerous, you 
might fall through the 

"Fair enough. Are the con- 
tainers identified?" 

"Yes, there's no secret." 
Johnson did his 
best to remember. 
"Organo ..." 

phates? Right— 
what I need to 
know is which con- 
tainers are leaking 

and roughly how much. We 
might be able to work out 
the exact chemical reac- 
tions — you may not realize 
it, Johnson, but you've 
mixed a remarkably potent 
cocktail. A lot of people will 
want to learn the recipe, for 
all kinds of reasons. ..." 

Sitting in the colonel's 
chair on the porch of the 
beach house, Johnson 
gazed contentedly at the 
luminous world around him, 
a jever-realm of light and 
life that seemed to have 
sprung from his own mind. 
The jungle wall of cycads, gi- 
ant tamarinds, and tropical 
creepers crowd- 
ed the beach to 
the waterline, and 
the reflected col- 
ors drowned in 
swaths of phos- 
phorescence that 
made the lagoon 
resemble a caldron of elec- 
tric dyes. 

So dense was the vege- 
tation that almost the only 
free sand lay below 
Johnson's feet. Every morn- 
ing he would spend an 
hour cutting back the flow- 
ering vines and wild magno- 
lia that inundated the metal 
shack. Already the foliage 
was crushing the galva- 
nized iron roof. However 
hard he worked — and he 
found himself too easily dis- 
tracted—he had been un- 
able to keep clear the in- 
spection pathways which 
Christine patrolled on her 
weekend visits, camera 
and specimen jars at the 
ready. Hearing the sound of 
her inflatable as she 
neared the inlet of the la- 
goon, Johnson surveyed 
his domain with pride. He 
had found a metal card ta- 
ble buried in the sand and 
laid it with a selection of 
fruits he had picked for 



Left: Waterlity, 
0. R. Fowler, J. Hanan, 
19911. Operating al 
3 million calculations 
a second, a Silicon 
Graphics Iris super- 
compute r took 
three hours to create 
this Image. Math- 
e mat lea I formulas rep- 
resenting the overall 
shape and growth pat- 
terns □( the lily's 
petalsformedllrsl, fol- 
lowed by the pleth- 
ora of stamens in the 
Once the plant'salgo- 
rlthms were com- 
plete, another program 
added the 3-D effect. 
To modelthe growth 
of a snail embryo 


The images 
on these pages are 
not mere exer- 
cises in trigonome- 
try, which would 
be equivalent to 
taking a math- 
ematical snapshot of 
a plant's exte- 
rior. Nor are they 
generated by 
fractal-based meth- 
ods, which simply 
repeat patterns 
based on unsolvable 
equations. Rather, 
they are the product 
of a new branch 
of mathematics. Bio- 
mathematics plumbs 
what could be the 
governing the de- 
velopment of plant 
life on this planet 
by using sets of 
mathematical formu- 
las not only to 
guide the descrip- 
tion of plants' 
outer shape but also 
to duplicate the 
way plants grow in na- 
ture. In many in- 
stances, the images 
begin as tiny 
plants that "grow" on 
the computer 
screen. This tech- 
nique brings the 
tiniest detaiis into fo- 
cus: the tentative 
branching of a rose 
leaf, the tightly 
wrapped terminal 
bud awaiting its cue 
to flower, each 
re-created in a bio- 
logically accu- 
rate representation 
of a plant. 

The groundwork 
for this breakthrough 
was established in 

(pictured above, 
as seen through an 
electron micro- 
scape), computer 
begin by mapping the 
seguence {left mar- 
gin). The basic set of in- 
structions gives 
rise to the 3-D ren- 
dering of a maturing 
cell cluster (top). 

>'*& mt 


/ "•"/ / ■ 




'.'A- ... . • \ y , 
■.ill / 7" 


artificial life to 
describe the work 
they do. The im- 
plications could be 
astounding: Proc- 
esses not observa- 
ble within living 
plants can be visua 
Jzed through com- 
puter modeling. Fu- 
ture refinements 
of the system will 
enable the compute 
to animate com- 
plete growth cycles 
allowing researcher 

to sit back and 
watch, say, the 500- 
year growth span 
of an oak tree breeze 
by in just a few 
minutes. One of the 
goals, says Przemy- 
slaw Prusinkiewicz, 
who spearheads . 
work on artificial life 
at the University of 
Regina in Saskatch- 

is to create an elec- 
tronic version of the 

natural world. "We 
are creating an artifi- 
cial world," he says, 
"but not all worlds 
can be explained by 


revious page: 
Oil Palm Tree Canopy, 
CIFSAD Modelisa- 
lion Laboratory, 1990. 
Theplaotation of 
trees displays lateral 
shoots at different 
stages of maturity. Var- 
ying the algorithms 
used to produce 
the pineapple (previ- 
ous page, lop) 
creates realistic pine- 
cones and sedge 

shoots. Left: 
Close-up of a 
D.R. Fowler. 1988. 
.The tightly clus- 
tered tiowerloiiows a 
ca retu I !y con- 
structed spualpattern. 
Miscalculations o' 
as littleasO.1 degree 
in the angle governing 
the spiral's develop- 
ment will result in 
such as the lop and 
bottom patterns to the 
left. This page, top: 
Sunflower Field, 

D. R. Fowler, 
N. Fuller, J. Hanan, 
and A. Snider, 
1990 Roughly 400 
sunliowet plants 
vim - in %h this image. 
Aboue Apple Twig, P. 
Prusinkiewicz, D. R. 
Fowler. i990.The side 
branch ol the apple 
tree terminates in a 
spray ot tlowers. 



the phenomenon occurs when elec- 
trons crowd together much as in Cher- 
netsky's plasma or Puthoff's metal 
plates. "When electrons are packed 
densely enough, they no longer repel 
each other," says Shoulders, "Instead 
they form charge clusters that hold to- 
gether even without a wire to carry 
them, That lets us build circuits from 
grooves in a sheet of ceramic or plas- 
tic Condensed charges can move 
through these grooves one thousand 
times faster than electrons travel 
■ through a semiconductor chip." What 
is more, says Shoulders, it's fairly easy 
to generate condensed charges: Just 
make a spark. 

His first major Irick, Shoulders 
hopes, will be. replacing today's silicon 
computer chips. If anyone else made 
so uni : kely a c-Eiirn. few would listen. But 
the sixty-two-year-old Shoulders, for- 
merly of the Massachusetts Institute of 
Technology and Sianford Research In- 
stitute, possesses extraordinary cre- 
dentials: in the early Sixties, he made 
the world's first vacuum microelectron- 
ic circuits and the very first prototypes 
of the equipment now used to manufac- 
ture silicon chips. 

According to Shoulders, his new cir- 

cuits will render- si con -based technol- 
ogy obsolete. "It looks like there is 
nothing jn electronics that you cannot 
do a whole lot better with clustered 
charge," he says. 

For an amiable Texan, Shoulders is 
remarkably closemouthed about the 
product he is said to be developing. But 
he is open abou; ihe advantages of con- 
densed charge. "Usirig beads of con- 
densed charge, we have already 
made transistor-type switches with 
speeds of less than one trillionth of a 
second. That's ten thousand times tast- 
er than you can buy, and I think we're 
going to get a lot faster than that," Shoul- 
ders says. In fact, engineers working 
with conventional chips a couple of inch- 
es long are having trouble figuring out 
how to speed the passage of elee: r ons 
from one side to the next. With con- 
densed charge technology, however, 
electrons move so rapidly that a single 
circuit could be a foot across. 

Long, compact circuits working at 
hign speed wou c o-naolo us to build ma- 
chines with far less bulk than today's 
technology. For instance, S'houlders 
says, we could build "a hundred-horse- 
power motor no bigger than the shaft 
it takes to deliver the torque [power], or 
a flat-screen TV with all the electronics 
bujlt right into the display, You could 
use the screen for anything from high- 
defirtitiofi TV to computing. Simpler yet: 

"In other words, Mr. Campbell, She human eye is like 
...and you're out of film. " 

an X-ray machine hat tits r.side a hypo- 
dermic needle. You could put it into the 
patient's body to irraoiate a tumor, say, 
without exposing the other organs to X 
rays. We already have companies ex- 
perimenting with these things." 

Perhaps most incredible, CCT may 
be available soon. Condensed charge 
devices are astonishingly easy to 
make, Shoulders says. "We can get rid 
of the complicated photographic tech- 
niques I had to invent to make micro- 
emps and use simple olchinc anc; stamp- 
ing. This is really low-tech. Any Third 
World country can do it." 

Though Shoulders works closely 
with Puthoff, he is reluctant to admit 
that CCT derives from zero point ener- 
gy for sure. "There are at least four com- 
cetirg Iheores hat might explain con- 
densed charges," he says, "and 
though zero, point energy is a Ikely can- 
didate, I can't say which theory will 
turn out to be right." 

Other scientists give Puthoff's work 
on zero point energy mixed reviews. Tim- 
othy Boyer, whose papers inspired 
Puthoff in the.first place, for instance, 
disagrees with Puthoff's explanation of 
gravity. "As far as I am concerned, the 
idea :S fuzzy and the calculations ambig- 
uous," Boyer says. "To think in terms 
of the curvature of space-time is a 
much more useful, extensive idea." 

Physicist Alfonso Rueda of California 
State University at Long Beach, on the 
other hand, is "sympathetic to Puthoff. 
Rueda studied vacuum fluctuations, us- 
ing them to explain both the enormous 
power of cosmic rays and the dense 
concentration of stars at certain inter- 
sections of the universe. Rueda feels 
Puthoff has presented some powerful evi- 
dence for his idea that zero point en- 
ergy holds atoms" together, And he is 
"impressed ■■/■-■ill" Pj;ho~i's treatment of 
gravity, I think he is on the right paih." 

New York University physicist Benja- 
min Bederson, editor of the respected 
Physical Review A, where most of 
Puthoff's work has been published, has 
an opinion as well, "Many articles that 
appear in Physical Review turn out to 
be wrong," Bederson says. "Like any 
journal, we rely on the judgment of our 
referees. Some expressed doubts 
about Puthoff's conclusions, but they all 
agreed that it was stimulating work and 
deserved a wider audience." 

As for Puthoff, he is confident indeed. 
A new series of experiments, he says, 
should deal with Boyer's criticisms and 
move his own research along. Mean- 
while he looks forward to the day we tap 
the power in the void, using it to ener- 
gize our cities and propel slarships be- 
yond the solar system without an 
ounce of onboard fuel. "Only the fu- 
ture," Puthoff says, "can reveal the ulti- 
mate use to which humans will put the 
remaining fire of the gods, the quantum 
fluctuations of empty space." DQ 

"Plants don't have teeth, claws, 

or immune systems, and they cannot run 

away. So throughout evolution 

they've been making newer and nastier 

pesticides. They are much 

better chemists than Dow or Monsanto" 

Fear of pesticides has manifested itself in a growing 
demand for "natural," "old-fashioned," arid "organ- 
ic" foodstuffs and products. We're willing to pay 
more for them; easing our chemical apprehension is worth 
the price, especially if we're responsible, too, for the well- 
being of our children. Isn't it? 

Enter Bruce Ames, professor of biochemistry and molec- 
ular biology at the University of California, Berkeley. Ames, 
a genetic toxicologist, lent the weight of science to the fledg- 
ling environmental movement of the mid-Seventies. 

Born in New York City in 1928, Ames is the son of a high- 
school science teacher who eventually became assistant su- 
perintendent of schools. Ames went to the Bronx High 
School of Science and Cornell University, then received a 
Ph.D, in biochemistry from Caltech. "I was never terribly 


good at getting A's," he recalls, "but I was always good at 
problem solving." From 1953 to 1967 he worked at the Na- 
tional Institutes of Health, and he has been at Berkeley 
since 1968. 

His Ames test quickly and inexpensively determined the 
mutagenicity of chemical compounds. In a celebrated case 
before the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission. Ames 
showed that Tris, a flame-retardant chemical used in chil- 
dren's pajamas, was a potential cancer-causing agent. 
Based on that evidence, Tris was banned. And so began 
the hunt for other man-made carcinogens that flourishes to 
this day. 

But what of Ames? Rather than ride an environmental band- 
wagon determined to call to account an industrial hierarchy 
many see as motivated by greed and possessed of a devil- 

may-care attituae towarc its customers, 
Ames stuck with science. He went on 
to make some startling discoveries. Fore- 
most among them: Not only are rough- 
ly half of all man-made chemicals po- 
tentially cancer causing, but so are a 
similar number of natural chemicals. 
And because 99.9 percent of the chem- 
icals we ingest are natural, Ames 
thinks we should be just as concerned 
about Mother Na:ure : s xixins as we are 
about those produced by Union Car- 
bide — if not more so. 

But not to worry. The bottom line 
here is not so much the cancer threat 
of peanut butter or parsley — though it 
exists — as that the amounts of toxins we 
consume are more or less harmless. 
Even if the salmonella bacteria in his 
Ames test mutate, or lab rats grow tu- 
mors from high-end, or maximum tol- 
erated, doses of these naturally occur- 
ring carcinogens, it does not follow, he 
says, that any tiny amount will produce 
proportional results. This position is a 
reversal of his earlier "one-molecule" the- 
ory, wherein he posited that one mol- 
ecule of a given carcinogen was 
enough to cause cancer. 

In fact, Ames now recommends ihat 
we buy produce sprayed with synthet- 
ic pesticides instead of organically 
grown foodstuffs. His reasoning: Most 
man-made chemicals have been test- 
ed, as opposed to Ihe untested natural 
chemicals with which "unaided" plants 
protect themselves against predators, 
and organic produce may be higher in 
natural toxins. 

It would be nice to believe Bruce 
Ames. His optimism about the state of 
the environment and our overall health 
is a refreshing change from the dooms- 
day headlines trumpeted almost daily 
by well-intentioned watchdogs. To 
Ames, almost everything's coming up 
nontoxic roses. His is a reassuring 
voice in what we've come to perceive 
as a polluted wilderness. To his detrac- 
tors, however, Ames whitewashes the 
very real health problems associated 
with man-made pesticides and pollu- 
tion. Some, like the Natural Resources 
Defense Council and 60 MinulQS, have 
gone so far as to accuse him of being 
a shill for industry. 

The first time I met with him, we 
walked the short distance from his lab 
to the Cafe Pastoral. Spare, silver- 
haired, and patiently instructive, he was 
unflappable during our conversation, in 
spite of having lost his father several 
days earlier. — Bill Moseley 

Omni: What have you been doing? 
Ames: Running a lab. I have a big, ac- 
tive lab here. And working on my review 
of natural pesticides. Every plant has for- 
ty or fifty pesticides it makes to kill off „ 
predators and fungi. There's a big war 
going on between plants, animals, -and 
insects. Plants couldn't survive if they 

76 OMNI 

weren't filled with toxic chemicals. 
They don't have immune systems, 
teeth, claws, and they can't run away. 
So throughout evolution they've been 
making newer and nastier pesticides. 
They're better chemists than Dow or 
Monsanto. They've been at it a very 
long time. 

To the toxicologist, the idea that na- 
ture is benign and only man-made 
things are bad is crazy. Looking at the 
toxicology of the natural chemicals we 
eat, you find just as many bad actors 
as among man-made chemicals. Man- 

ic or natural— are carcinogens. But peo- 
ple looking at human cancer are find- 
ing completely different causes: smok- 
ing, viruses, dietary imbalances. 
Omni: Would you call it hysteria, a can- 
cer witch-hunt? 

Ames: Yes. We're starting to unravel the 
causes of major cancers — such as 
breast, colon, stomach. They're not all 
pinned down completely, but epidemi- 
ologists are finding these causes have 
nothing to do with the chemicals 
they're feeding rats. Pollution, too, is 
probably almost irrelevant to causes of 

rats— just below the level that would 
kill them — every day for a lifetime. 
Then we said: "Well, let's extrapolate 
down a millionfold. One millionth of 
that dose might have a proportional ef- 
fect." Most toxicologists think that's un- 
likely to be true, and recent evidence 
suggests it's not. 

All of life is a trade-off. You can 
build cars that don't put out any pollu- 
tion. But it would cost an enormous 
amount. When we had horses, the 
streets were full of manure. We've 
gone to nonflammable solvents for dry 

stayed around for years. But it did 
save millions of lives, never hurt peo- 
" pie, and was ultimately succeeded by 
much better and less persistent com- 
pounds. Nature's using thousands of 
times more of its pesticides. Many of 
them also accumulate in body fat. 
Your tissue contains solanine and cha- 
conine (which kill insects in_the same 
way as ihe synthetic organophosphate 
insecticides) because you're eating fif- 
teen thousand micrograms a day from 
a single potato. And yet you're eating 
only about fifteen micrograms of the 

don't want the air in Los Angeles to be 
very dirty. It's not aesthetically pleasing, 
and maybe there's a small health fac- 
tor. But in terms of the amount of burnt 
material inhaled, one day of smoking for- 
ty cigarettes equals a year of breath- 
ing the burnt material in LA smog. 
Omni: Wouldn't it be better not to have 
all that pollution in the air? 
Ames: Oh, sure. You can have more pu- 
rity on whatever you like; you just have 
to pay for it. 

Omni: I still wonder, Don't man-made 
pollutants have a cumulative effect 

4 4 Man-made pesticides are much safer than natural ones because we're getting lower amounts of them and they've been tested more thoroughly.?? 

made pesticides are much safer be- 
cause we're '-getting much lower 
amounts, and they've been tested 
more thoroughly. If you get rid of na- 
ture's pesticides, you have to use 
more man-made pesticides. Eliminate 
man-made pesticides and you'll have 
to breed plants for higher levels of nat- 
ural pesticides. 

Omni: Determining what is a safe 
dose seems difficult, 
Ames: Scientists have been arguing 
about that for a long time. Nobody can 
measure it exactly. Scientists test chem- 
icals at massive doses, the maximum 
tolerated in rats or mice. Doing that, 
half the chemicals ever tested — synthet- 

cancer and birth defects. Air pollution 
may have a small effect, but chemical 
pollutants are present at such tiny lev- 
els, they're uninteresting from the stand- 
point of cancer prevention. Reducing pol- 
lution is desirable for aesthetic and oth- 
er reasons, but it would have a minimal 
effect on cancer rates. 
Omni: Aren't you overlooking reproduc- 
tive and neurological effects of toxic 
chemicals and pollution? 
Ames: No. For most substances, even 
vitamins, there's a safe dose and a dan- 
gerous dose, so you don't worry about 
tiny doses. But we sort of ignored that 
truism of toxicology with carcinogens. 
We gave these enormous doses to 

cleaning. We could go back to flamma- 
ble ones, but then many buildings 
would go up in flames. The price you 
pay for nonflammable solvents is a 
part per billion of something in the wa- 
ter. The hell with it. Such trivial amounts 
don't matter. 

Omni: What about the cumulative ef- 
fect? In the United States alone, we 
dump something like two billion 
pounds of pesticides a year. 
Ames: When you measure what's get- 
ting into people, it's a tiny amount. 
Omni: But doesn't that accumulate over 
the years, in nature and in people? 
Ames: No, pesticides get "degraded, 
DDT, the first synthetic pesticide, 

man-made organophosphate pesti- 
cides a' day. Solanine and chaconine 
came into the human diet four hundred 
years ago. They're teratogens, causing 
birth defects in animals. And nobody's 
worrying about them because they're nat- 
ural. It's a double standard. 

None of these fears make sense, yet 
people hate industry. They say indus- 
try pollutes because of greed, and 
we're going to get them. But in the end, 
modern industrial society is bringing us 
our health and wealth. The main corre- 
lation of health is prosperity. Industry is 
why our life expectancy gets longer ev- 
ery year. Pollution is a nonissue in 
terms of public health. Obviously you 

that is worse than whatever nature 
puts into the environment? 
Ames: There's no science supporting a 
cumulative effect. People used pes- 
ticides before DDT. They used lead ar- 
senate. That's natural, carcinogenic, in- 
finitely persistent, and it was outmoded 
by DDT Modern pesticides have con- 
stantly made things better. They've 
made fruits and vegetables enormous- 
ly cheap, and in general the more 
fruits and vegetables you eat, the bet- 
ter your health. Pesticides are improv- 
ing public health and saving lives be- 
cause they lower the cast of food. 
Omni: Do you recommend supermarket 
over organic produce? 


Ames: Oh, I can make a case that or- 
ganic produce is more dangerous. 
First, when plants get stressed they 
raise their pesticide levels. People com- 
plain that produce in the Safeway 
looks good and produce in the organ- 
ic stores looks- damaged. When ii's dam- 
aged the plant induces much higher lev- 
els of its pesticides. Second, if you 
drive an extra mile to an organic store, 
your risk of being in a car accident is 
probably higher than any possible risk 
from a peshcioe residue, which I don't 
believe constitutes a significant risk any- 
way. Third, some organic farmers 
spray untested natural pesticides on 
their crops. Fourth, different cultivars of 
■ plants have different levels of natural pes- 
ticides. Organic farmers tend to pick 
plants that are insect resistant and so 
higher in natural pesticides. Most cel- 
ery has about nine hundred parts per 
billion of two natural carcinogens. But 
one variety might have two thousand 
parts per billion, another two hundred 
parts. Someone just introduced a new 
celery into the United States with nine 
thousand parts per billion. The organic 
farmers love it. 

This unreasonable fear of synthetic 
chemicals is all based on bad science. 
They give enormous doses of a man- 
made chemical to a rat and then fell you 
a tiny dose will do you in. All the while 
you're getting much larger doses of nat- 
ural carcinogens in every meal! Pars- 
ley and cabbage contain levels of nat- 
ural carcinogens at thousands of parts 
per billion; coffee and mustard have 
even higher levels. Look at a cup of cof- 
fee, all that black material, it's full of car- 
cinogens. You're getting tiny doses ev- 
ery time you eat a meal: carcinogens, 
teratogens, neurotoxics, 
Omni: What's the error factor in deter- 
mining how much of a carcinogen is 
safe to ingest? 

Ames: The risk estimates are based on 
multiplying a number of worst-case as- 
sumptions, but the real risk is much clos- 
er to zero. A daily glass of Alar-tainted 
apple juice is one fiftieth the possible 
risk of a daily mushroom, one eigh- 
teenth the risk from the aflatoxin mold 
carcinogen in an ordinary peanut but- 
ter sandwich. All these hypothetical can- 
cer risks may be negligible. 
Omni: How did the Alar scare come 

Ames: Environmental organizations 
have an incentive to exaggerate and 
scare the public. That's how they get 
their new members. They're not getting 
very good scientific advice in my view. 
Alar keeps apples on the trees so 
they'll all ripen together. This keeps fall- 
en apples from going moldy and they'll 
have a lot less mold toxins. You use a 
lot less pesticides if you use Alar. ■ 
Banning Alar ruined a lot of apple farm- 
ers and cost the apple industry $100-mil- 
llon. And making apples more expen- 

78 OMNI 


we'd share with you the opinions of es at which toxicity was not seen. So 
other scientists and commentators re- there's- not a simple, correlation be- 
garding Ames and his views: tween toxicity and carcinogenicity. 


Janet Hathaway, senior attorney 
for the Natural Resources Defense 
Council, Washington, DC: One of the 
biggest concerns public health and 
environmental advocates have 
about some of Bruce Ames's claims 
is his "tendency not to distinguish be- 
tween- what he has researched and 
what he's simply hypothesizing. 

In his eagerness to highlight the- 
ories and concepts, Ames tends to 
overstate what is known. Not even a 
small fraction of all the natural and. 
certainly all the synthetic substanc- 
es have been tested for carcino- 
gens. Some of his concepts are pro- 
vocative and play a role in spurring 
on further discussion and research. 
But. they should not be accepted by 
the public, as fact. 

Dr. I. Bernard Weinstein> director 

of- the' Comprehensive Cancer Cen- 
ter at the College of Physicians and 
Surgeons of Columbia University in 
New York. City: There is nothing in 
Bruce Ames's arguments to indicate 
we- should drastically alter the tests 
used today. Ames never gives us 
the bottom line. If he thinks rodent 
bioassays are unreliable, what 
would he substitute? He's not on the 
line personally to bear this responsibil- 
ity. Ames is not providing available 
alternate strategy. If tie came up 
with a better test than the rodent 
bioassays, all would be delighted. 

A whole range of tests evaluate 
ihe carcinogenicity of compounds. 
All are -constantly reevaluated. Re- 
search is looking to better under- 
stand cancer-causing processes, 
which will in turn lead to new tests. 
As each new chemical appears as 
a potential food additive, it should be 
put through the rodent bioassays: 
and evaluated in other test systems. 
Sometimes the data are highly con- 
vincing, sometimes not at all, some- 
times marginal. Often the tests 
have to be repeated. .Even though 
there are limitation's to some meth- 
ods, we do the best we can-. 

Concerning massive-dose rodent 
tests: Compounds are tested in mas- 
sive doses because you must in- 
crease the sensitivity of the test. 
Otherwise you'd use thousands of 
mice. Furthermore, there's evidence 


David Roe, senior attorney for the 

Environmental Defense Fund: 
Bruce claims he doesn't take a 
dime from industry, -and I've no rea- 
son to think he's at all compromised 
in .terms of fine 

Ames is a distinguished scientist. 
The question comes when one 
goes outside science to represent 
Ihe facts to the public and make rec- 
ommendations on policy. There 
Bruce is guilty of 

Industry would certainly like to sim- 
plify it more, turn it into advice, to "re- 
lax and. enjoy." 

Bftice makes a good point— and; 
he is not. the only one to make it: Tox- 
ic control policy should be, directed 
ai separating the trivial (rem She se- 

serious. The oddity is that he was op- . 
posed to the innovative landmark 
law in California— Proposition 65, 
which was passed four years ago™ 
that does just that, He was ap- 
pointed to the scientific panel select- 
ing chemicals for Proposition 65 and 
has consistently opposed. fair appli- 
cation of the law, in my opinion. It's 
ironic that when progress is made to- 
ward separating the. serious risks 
from the trivial, he doesn't recognize' 

Ames enjoys being a public man 
in ah area where many companies 
with a lot at stake have been known 
to publicize his views. That doesn't 
mean he's doing it tor them, but he's. 
■ much too sophisticated not to -under- 
stand some of his own oversimplifi- 
cations. One such simplification is 
his- saying how tiny one part per bil- 
lion is. He knows that one part per 
billion doesn't tell you anything 
about toxicity, that one part per bil- 
lion -of something can be. lethal. I'm 
not blaming his research. But his pub- 
lic presentation is geared to some 
things that are misleading. Separat- 
ing the serious from the trivial re- 
quires risk assessment. One part per 
billion of saccharin,. PCBs, or dioxin 
is not the same. Dioxin causes can- 
Oer in parts per quadrillion. None of 
this is to detract from his devel- 
opment ot the Ames test, knowledge 
..■:■:.,;... ,■■:..■■■■ . ■ ■■ • ■!<-■! ■..'!■■ 
anisms, Or credentials. It's just how 
he plays his stuff and allows, his 
stuff to be played. DQ 

sive hurt the public and may have in- 
creased possible hazards. 

Rich people may want to buy organ- 
ic food, However, organic food won't de- 
crease—and may even slightly in- 
crease — their cancer risk. In terms of 
cancer prevention, poor people are 
much better off eating more vegetables 
with man-made pesticides than fewer, 
costlier vegetables that lack these pes- 
ticides. The rich are always healthier. 
They have more money to spend on doc- 
tors, safer cars, and more varied diets. 
The best thing you can do for the poor 
is make them rich. 

Omni: How did you feel about the 60 
. Minutes coverage on Alar, when they 
interviewed you? 

Ames: I was pretty unhappy. They're sell- 
ing soap and sensationalism. They 
didn't go to the best scientists, nor did 
they really want to know what the best 
scientists thought. They distorted what 
I wanted to say. 60 Minutes tried to tie 
me in to industry, as if I were just an in- 
dustry shill, when I was just trying to pre- 
sent the best science. I make it a point 
not to do any consulting for industry. 
Omni: Do you have a patent on the 
Ames test? 

Ames: No. I never tried to patent it. Ev- 
ery industry in the world that develops 
chemicals uses it. I send out the bac- 
terial strains free. We have described 
how to do it, and everybody with some 

microbiology training can set it up. In 
the test you determine if the chemical 
mutates the genes of bacteria. The 
test uses a billion salmonella bacteria 
on a petri plate. These particular 
strains can't grow on that plate unless 
a gene is mutated, upon which the mu- 
tated bacteria start dividing, giving 
rise to a colony you can count. To test 
a chemical to see If it's a mutagen 
takes about a day. A positive test that 
a chemical is a mutagen is a warning 
signal that it's more likely to be a car- 
cinogen. However, some mutagenic 
chemicals aren't carcinogens in rats, 
and some carcinogens aren't mu- 
tagens. But overall, it does fairly well. 
Omni: Is mutagenicity the first warning 
sign of cancer? 

Ames: Yes, most people in the field 
think that a cell becomes a cancer cell 
through several mutations in its. genes. 
When chemical!? are 'esu-Jd at massive 
doses they kill cells and cause cell di- 
vision in neighboring cells. This in itself 
appears to increase the risk of cancer. 
Depending on the dose, every chemi- 
cal is toxic. Too much salt, for exam- 
ple, is probably a human carcinogen. 
One risk factor in Japanese stomach 
cancers is thought to be too much 
dietary salt. 

. Animals are designed with layers and 
layers of defenses against toxic chem- 
icals, natural pesticides, and chemicals 

from burnt material. We eat tens of thou- 
sands. Our defenses are inducible gen- 
eral defenses. If we eat an oxidizing 
agent (many oxidants are mutagens), 
we induce all sorts of ani oxidant defens- 
es effective against both synthetic and 
natural oxidants. That's why linear ex- 
trapolations from massive down to tiny 
doses don't make much sense. Give hu- 
man cells a little dose of radiation and 
they become more resistant to big dos- 
es, but of course high doses overload 
the defenses. Take ultraviolet light. Ev- 
ery time you go out in the sunshine, 
you're getting bathed in a carcinogen. 
A little UV light induces a tan, a natural 
defense against UV light. The tan pro- 
tects you against a burn. If you're go- 
ing to roast yourself once a month on 
the beach, you're probably better off get- 
ting a tan. With alcohol, five drinks a 
day is a risk factor for mouth and liver 
cancer and birth defects. One drink a 
day is the country's average; we don't 
know if It's dangerous or even protec- 
tive. If you're going to drink ten beers 
on Saturday, it's possible you'd be bet- 
ter off drinking one beer a day to induce 
your defenses. 

Whenever you burn something you 
make a carcinogen. The Sierra Club 
makes a campfire, it's just putting car- 
cinogens into the air. Shall we outlaw 
campfires? The most polluted places 
used to be where people burned 
wood. You go to little towns where peo- 
ple are using wood stoves, you see the 
pollution. The Sierra Club should under- 
stand the cost in pollution of putting a 
log on the fire. We should be conserv- 
ing energy and building nuclear power 
plants. But the environmentalists are ail 
against nuclear power. If you burn 
coal, a fair amount of radioactivity as 
well as carcinogens goes in the air. 
Omni: What about the radioactive 
waste products in nuclear energy? 
Ames: That's not a big problem, from 
what I hear. 

Omni: What about a hundred years 
from now, the environmental "sins of the 
fathers," and so on? 
Ames: There was always pollution, 
Thanks to modern science, a hundred 
years from now our life expectancy will 
be much longer than it is now. You 
couldn't support today's world popula- 
tion with the technology of the last cen- 
tury. The pollution in London a hundred 
years ago was much worse than now. 
I was in China ■■/isiting factories. It's the 
most polluted place you've ever seen. 
Worker safety is nonexistent. 
Omni: What about chlorofluorocarbons 
[CFCs], suspected of breaking down 
the ozone layer? 

Ames: You might eliminate the CFCs in 
spray cans, since you don't really 
need them as propellants. CFCs as re- 
frigerants are really useful. You don't 
want to eliminate them until you find a 
better alternative. You may want to re- 


i :: .went to see Wendy when t was in London. For 
I old times' sake, it's 'a drag, but she expects : it, 
| and what can. I' do. 

"Oh, Slightly, you really are a sight," she/says, : 
|:and smiles as if she expects me to share the ' 
hoke. "You look so silly in that black leather Jack-- 
let;' And why do you have a hoop in your ear? Do 
you think you re a pirate?" \ She laughs girlishly/even though she's over:. 
thirty, saddled, with a kid/^'and afflicted with a husband who's never home : . 
[don't even know why I go to see her. She always insists i stay to tea and 
serves; sweet biscuits and fusses over her kid the whole time. She gets to me. 
We have: what passes for conversation in her household. 

"Slightly writes for the newspaper, Jane, What do you think- of that?' 1 
■Wendy asks the kid, Jane looks at me owlishly and says nothing. 

"He just got back from somewhere very far away-and exotic. Where was 
it this time, Slightly?" 

"Nicaragua," I say, '1 was a stringer for the Times, Covering the war.. You 
may have heard about it?" -. •. , . • ' -■ " 


S ie 

I. get under- 'he? skir 

lies sweety and I kis! can't 


\J from -our little world here.'" 

"Could you please call me 
Hank/ 1 I say, a litre testily. "I really 
prefer it." 

"Very well, dear," she says. She ' 
looks hurt but covers by busying her- 
. self with cleaning up a spot o* tea. 
that has d-ppec. from the teapot 
spout onto the oilcloth table cover. 


;. She 

dually the Ki ■::: coos o;.r lc play 
dressed in a little pink frock trirn- 

■i .=--_-■ i t i -| :■! :■■!■: ':i.' i 

irig a houseeress that looks a bit 
worse for wear, but the kid has to' 
have the best. "'She's such a deer." 
Wendy says, and then settles n her 
chair to reminisce-. "1 was just 'ier 
age when I first flew oft with Peter." 

I don'! want to hear about t. but 
she's off and running. "Remember 
The lovely-little house you boys 
mace for me? On, : was so happy 
there." And then she goes en. and 
on. about ine sweet little room un- 
der the trees and the fun we had 
chasing iris pirates. In her memo- 
ries, she even l:kes Tiger Li'y [he Indi- 
an princess, thougn I recall a: the 
lima Wendy was quite put out by Ti- 
ger Lily's obvious, interest in Peter. 

Wendy's morrones are all quite 
tidy. She remembers the sweet 
roc:"' neneatn the trees and dcesn'l 
remember that it .stank like wood 
smoke half the time because l-ie 
chimney didn't draw. She remem- 
bers the jcily pirate ship anc forgets 
the death cries of the pirates. 
The oeek was s-ick with blood when 
we were done. 1 re ,_ - ".er n e> en 
if she doesn't. ' 

~hev died homhy— two in the cab- 


; h; 

deck, mobbed by the lest boys, har- 
ried by Peter. I didn't kill any myself, 
but .that doesn't mean I was inno- 
cent. I carried the lantern and 
called tc the other boys tc follow. I 
■emec-iiCi flashing the lantern n one 
man's taco ■ Bill lVlullins, i think nis 
name was and tie ran out half blind- 
ed, to be cut .down oy three boys. 

Pair play didn't enter info it- we 
were ;ust kids. Kids with death in our 
hancsand a song in our hearts, the 
air reeked 'of- blood and we 
watched Hook leao overboard into 
the ]3ws el the crocodile. 

Wendy seems to have forgot- 
ten ail this. She remembers 
a tidy Neverland. Remaps 
she: believes the Disney, ver- 
sion where peoole died neatly, nev- 
er so: no their pants. 

I look around the room as she' 
talks. chaUenng about fairy oust and 
Tinker Bell. The arms oi the chairs 
are covered with off-white- doilies 
thai are a liWe lumpy and- don't lie 
Hat. Wendy's work, no doubt. The Win- 
dows are covered with a thin layer 
of- dust the kind of dirt thai hangs 

n the air of innusina towns, settling 
on eve-yihing. By the door the car- 
pet is worn; the underlying threads 
show through. Wendy herself looks 
worn -fired ground the eyes. Her 
hands are a little chapped, ^^e 
hasn't been taxing care of herself 

Her husband is an actor, or so 
Wendy says. He gets work now and 
-hen-— minor parts in minor produc- 
tions. Never anything big. He's a 
good-looking man. In a sallow, beard- 
less way. I've met him once or ■ 
twice, and I didn't much care tor . 

■ reminiscences 
siow down, I ask about him. 'How's 
your husband? Getting any work''" 

She looks worried. "Oh, he has . 
hones. He's being considered for 
apart." '" . 

see." I see all too well His sort is 

always being considered for a 

part.. Always having lunch, with a 

producer Always chasing after 

the dream and never 'catching it. 

leaving nis wife to grow worn and 

tired atone; 

■ ■ /'And what about you,. Slightly? 
Are you seeing anyone 7 " 

I've been married fniee times 
Anc divorcee three times. It never 
takes. The third one was the worst. 
"I don'i mind that you're gene half 
the rime," my wlte told me. ; ; knew 
thst. when we got: marred. But you're 
not looking for a wife, you're looking 
for a mother to rock you to sleep." 


i- Pff : n 
n- always, gallivanting off 'it 


"You sound so much like him." 
Wendy says wistfully. 

"No. Don't say that. It's not so." 
■But even as I deny her words, 1 
knowshe's right. He left his mark on 
me. just as he left it onher. When 
all the- lost boys came home, 1 was. 
the one who- never fit in. At school. 
I told- the other kids about our adyen- 
. tureswith the pirates, the battles- 
with the redskins, the long after* 
noons by the mermaids' lagoon. 
Whenrkids, called me -a liar, I fought 
back with rry lists aid got a reputa- 
tion as a troublemaker, a bad boy. 
When tne other lost boys were pro- 
moted to the next grace. I was kepi. 
back/But by that iime, It didn't real- 
! y matter .to me I couldn't talk to. 
■hem anymore. They were busy for- 
getting the island, forgetting Pete-, 
adjusting to tne real world. 

Wendy : s staring into hie lire Ig- 
noring me. I care about Wendy, you 
know. For all the nasty things I say. 
I- care about her. Though she wes 
just a Hike girl herself, she hied :o 
be a mother to us all. She tucked us 
in: she told us stories. And Peter treat- 
ed her v/ors' titan he eatcd ai / ol 
the boys. 

When he let; us here he promised 
..,!.. ne bacr; ■ ici spring and take 
her ;c Nevedand for a week. She 
was supposed to go help with his 
spring cleaning. ;■ \ ,\ : 

' 'ound ner silting oy the Open win- 
cow the year that he (o-got her. She 
were a frock That, looked too young 
for :■ .! I'hcugi sin wa only elev- 
en she was growing up fast. 

"'What do you think has happened 
to I'm. Slightly?" she. asked, peer- 
ing out the window. "Do. you think 
he's sick?" .. ■ 

"He's never sick," I told her. "The '. 
bastard just forgot." She slipped, his ■ 
mind. She didn't matter, any more 
than.the rest of us mattered. I put my 
arms out to comfort her, but she ran 
away crying, And after that, she 
grew up quickly. . 

She looks up from the fire and 
meets my eyes. "It's almost soring. ' 
she says. "I wonder if he'll come 
this year. I think he will. I have a feel- 
ing, that he'll: come soon. Maybe ; 

■ "Forget it, Wendy. Just forget it. 
took the window, for Christ's sake. 
He's gone." 

.- Though, she nods, as if she ; 
agrees, her gaze returns to the fire, 
i stay fo- : a litt'e longer then excuse 
myself. She smiles and hugs me 
when t go. but her thoughts are 

When 1 leave Wendy's house, I go 
to my motorcycle and then hesitete, 
considering whet Wenr.iy said earli- 
er. She's hgm— there's a feeling in 
Ihe air. a sense ot antic ioalion 

I wait in the darkness by the win- 
dow lo jane's bedroom. Wendy's 
left it open, of course. 1 knew she 
vvouid. It's dark, but her husband 
hasn't come home yet, He'll be 
ho'-',c late and drunk, : f I know the 
type. Though the window. I Istcn to 
•M i . .! . i ■". ' ■ ir". ■:• u.i.-n 

Snow White to tier daughter and bid 
her goodnight 

The blind at tne kitchen window 
is up. I watch Wendy take a 
whiskey bottle from the cup- 
board and' pour herself -a... 
■ii,. :. ■■' 'in ,n h d irkne: ■ ■■■■ i ■ i 
ing Wendy drink. 

jVly second wife once asked me 
about- my- family. ' I told her as close ' 




to the truth as I could mar 
father .left me. and my mcih< 

■when 1 was just a kid." She aske 
me if I had ever thought about ir 
ng \a rind my father. I said that 

.1 ever found him, I would kill hi 



:■ dto ■; 

He didn't mean tc do it. He 
didn't knew what he was do- 
ing. He was cocky., thought- 
less and innocently heroic . 
.And he blighted my- life. All- my 
Ire have wanted to . ■ : :■ mn 
I -ur from continent ic continent, 
her war to war writing stories and 
books and search ng for the great 
adventure thai he always promised 
us. I took for a. leader who- laughs'- 



back to ihfr island v 

hough i am- only thirty year- 
old', I feel ancient, worn-out, 
used up. Toe b : j;;.eh : y Knife 
that -I bought in- the. -Philip- '. 
■s fits comfortably in my hand. 
eve learned. -a thing" or two 
ut fighting .in- my visits to var- . 
no lews wa' zones If I ta.e him by sur- 
!ly prise, I'li have a chance. ■■ think. 

Tonlgnt, ifs cither Peter or me. 
nd And if he wins, he won't think 
gc rvvico. He'll s:it rny throat hes- 
)ys itation, never 'ecognzing his oid 
nd cornoanion. He'll laugh ;he care- 
■I luod ■ m fly ■ h 

jioud, : 




The near-death experience and alien abduction may 
both be tied to childhood abuse 

altered slates. Some results 
ing. Tr 

hologically similar to those reporting r 

really out there ir 
height- Byron Egeland 

=ire store clerks or anyone else." 





ires that slither ; 
I the floor. But that's just 
what happened when th 
irketinq ' 

with a new way to livei 
up its publicity 

iv, a film about 
distributed by the 




Cruelty to Animals (RSPCA) 

that people could call 

picked up." 

The silver and gray 

striped Chinese rat snak 

■ not poisonous, Hel 

I problems with 
I of delivery system 

tures of their environment. I 
they are put in the 1 
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a New York psychiatrist, 
is arguing that hypnotic i 
gression and any other 
therapeutic aspects of UFO 
abdU' "' 

!$ 00i' 

professionals ai„ „„.,,..,,, 
Says Laibow, "The non- 

I is unqualified to 
deal with the complex 
psychodynamic questions 
that arise during hypnotic 

Hopkins, however, is not 
convinced that therapists 


..... . ._does 

"de facto" therapy, he says, 
when talking to and calming 
abductees but refers ab- 
J '— 'ees to therapists when 

them. What worries Hopkins 
most is that some therapists 

The best way to get a 
skeptic to embrace astrology 
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psychologist Peter Glick ai 
associat ' - 

Glick gave either nega- 

I told these were personalized 
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Psychologist Ray Hyman 
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are generalized personality 

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"Though you 

person, i 

shy." The Barnum effect 

says that people tend V "~ 

not apply to tf 
| Both skeptics and believ- 

rs rated the ! 
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go back and qi 

subjects again. 

light skeptical subjects ti 
skept' " 

—Paul McCarthy I apply to virtually anyone. 

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What difference 

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Christine that morning. To Johnson's un- 
trained eye they seemed to be strange 
hybrids of pomegranate and pawpaw, 
cantaloupe and pineapple. There were 
giant tomatolike berries and clusters of 
purple grapes each the size.of a base- 
ball. Together they glowed through the 
overheated light like jewels set in the 
face of the sun. 

By now, four months after his arrival 
on the Prospero, the onetime garbage 
island had become a unique botanical 
garden, generating new species of 
trees, vines, and flowering plants every 
day. A powerful life engine was driving 
the island. As she crossed the lagoon in 
her inflatable, Christine stared at the aeri- 
al terraces of vines and blossoms that 
had sprung uo since the previous week- 
end. The dead hulk of the Prospero, day- 
light visible through its acid-etched 
plates, sat in the shallow water, the last 
of its chemical wastes leaking into the la- 
goon. But Johnson had forgotten the 
ship and the voyage that had brought 
him here, just as he had forgotten his 
past life and unhappy childhood under 
the screaming engines of Nassau air- 
port. Lolling back in his canvas chair, on 
which was stenciled colonel pottle. U.S. 
■army engineer corps, he felt like a planta- 
tion owner who had successfully subcon- 
tracted a corner of the origina! Eden. As 
he stood up to get Christine he thought 
only of the future, of his pregnant bride 
and the son who would soon share the 
island with him. 

"Johnson! My God, what have you 
been doing?" Christine ran the inflatable 
onto the beach and sat back, exhausted 
by the buffeting waves. "It's a botanical 

Johnson was so pleased to see her 
that he forgot his regret over their week- 
ly separations. As she explained, she 
had her student classes to teach, her 
project notes and research samples to 
record and catalog. 

"Dr. Christine . . . ! I waited all day!" 
He stepped into the shallow water, a car- 
mine surf filled wth clewing animalcula. 
and pulled the inflatable onto the sand. 
He helped her from the craft, his eyes 
avoiding her curving abdomen under 
the smock. 

"Go on, you can stare. ..." Christine 
pressed his hand to her stomach. "How 
do I look, Johnson?" 

"Too beautiful for me, and the island . 
We've all gone quiet."' 

"That is gallant — you've become a po- 
et, Johnson." 

Johnson never thought of other wom- 
en^and knew that none could be so beau- 
tiful as this lady biologist bearing his 
child. He spotted a plastic cooler among 
the scientific equipment. "Christine — 
you've brought me ice cream. . . ," 









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"Of course I have. But don't eat it yet. 
We've a lot to do, Johnson." 

He unloaded the stores, leaving to the 
last the nylon nefs and spring-mounted 
steel frames in the bottom of the boat. 
These bird traps were the one cargo he 
hated to unload. Nesting in the highest 
branches above the island was a flock 
of extravagant aerial creatures, some- 
times swallows and finches whose jew- 
eled plumage and tail fans transformed 
them into gaudy peacocks. He had set 
the traps reluctantly al Christine's insis- 
tence. He never objected to catching 
the phosphorescent fish with their en- 
larged fins and ruffs of external gills, 
which seemed to prepare them for life 
. on the land, or the crabs and snails in 
their baroque armor. But the thought of 
Christine taking these rare and beautiful 
birds back to her laboratory made him 
uneasy — he guessed they would soon 
end their days under the dissection 

"Did you set the traps for me, 

"I set all of them and put in the bait." 

"Good." Christine heaped fhe nets on- 
to the sand. More and more she 
seemed to hurry these days, as if she 
feared that the experiment mighl end. "I 
can't understand why we haven't 
caught one of them." 

Johnson gave an eloquent shrug. In 

fact he had eaien :ho canned sardine;.; 
and released the one bird that had 
strayed into the trap below the parasol 
of a giant cycad. The nervous creature 
with its silken scarlet wings and kitelike 
tail feathers had been a dream of flight. 
"Nothing yet — they're clever, those 

"Of course they are — they're a new 
species." She sat in 'Colonel Pottle^s 
chair, photographing the table of fruit 
with her small camera. "Those grapes 
are huge — I wonder what sort of wine 
they'd make. Champagne of the gods, 
grand cm . . . " 

Warily Johnson eyed the purple and 
yellow globes. He had eaten the fish and 
crabs from the lagoon, when asked by 
Christine, with no ill effects, but he was 
certain that these fruits were intended for 
the birds. He knew that Christine was us- 
ing him, like everything else on the is- 
land, as part of her experiment. Even the 
child she had conceived after their one 
brief act of love, over so quickly that he 
was scarcely sure it had ever occurred, 
was part of the experiment. Perhaps the 
child would be the first of a new breed 
of man and he, Johnson, errand runner 
for airport shoeshine boys, would be the 
father of an advanced race that would 
one day repopulate the planet. 

As if aware of his impressive phy- 
sique, she said: "You look wonderfully 

well, Johnson. If this experiment ever 
needs to be justified ..." 

"I'm very strong now — I'll be able to 
look after you and the boy." 

"It might be a girl — or something in be- 
tween." She spoke in a matter-of-fact 
way that always surprised him. "Tell me, 
Johnson, what do you -do while I'm 

"I think about you, Dr. Christine." 

"And I certainly think about you. But 
do you sleep a lot?" 

"No. I'm busy with my thoughts. The 
time goes very quickly." 

Christine casually opened her note- 
pad. "You mean the hours go by with- 
out you noticing?" 

"Yes. After breakfast I fill the oil lamp 
and suddenly it's time for lunch. But it 
can go more slowly, too. If I look at a fall- 
ing leaf in a certain way it seems to 
stand still." 

"Good. You're learning to control 
time. Your mind is enlarging, 

"Maybe I'll be as clever as you, Dr. 

"Ah, I think. you're moving in a much 
more interesting direction. In fact, 
Johnson, I'd like you to eat some of the 
fruit. Don't worry, I've already analyzed 
it, and I'll have some myself." She was 
cutting slices of the melon-sized apple. 
"I want the baby to try some." 

Johnson hesitated, but as Christine a : - 
ways reminded him, none of the new spe- 
cies had revealed a single deformity. 

The fruit was pale and sweet, with a 
pulpy texture and a tang like alcoholic 
mango. It slightly numbed Johnson's 
mouth and left a pleasant coolness in 
the stomach. 

A diet for those with wings. 

"Johnson! Are you sick?" 

He woke with a start, not from sleep 
but from an almost too clear examination 
of the color patterns of a giant butterfly 
that had settled on his hand. He looked 
up from his chair at Christine's con- 
cerned eyes, and at the dense vines 
and flowering creepers that crowded the 
porch, pressing against his shoulders. 
The amber of her eyes was touched by 
the same overlit spectrum that shone 
through the trees and blossoms. Every- 
thing on the island was becoming a 
prism of itself. 

"Johnson, wake up!" 

"I am awake. Christine, . . I didn't 
hear you come." 

"I've been here for an hour." She 
touched his cheeks, searching for any 
sign of fever and puzzled by Johnson's 
distracted manner. Behind her, the in- 
flatable was beached on the few feet of 
sand not smothered by the vegetation. 
The dense wall of palms, lianas, and flow- 

ering p;an:s had collapsed onto the 
shore. Engorged on the sun, the giant 
.fruits had begun tc sph: under their own 
weight, and streams of vivid juice ran 
across the sand, as if the forest was 

"Christine? You came back so 
soon. . . ?" It seemed to Johnson thai 
she had left only a few minutes earlier. 
He remembered waving good-bye to 
her and siiting down to finish nis fruit and 
admire the giant butterfly, its wings like 
the painted hands of a circus clown. 

"Johnson — I've been away for a 
week." She held his shoulder, frowning 
at the unstable wall of rotting vegetation 
that towered a hundred feet into the air. 
Cathedrals of flower-decked foliage 
were falling into the waters of the lagoon. 

"Johnson, help me to unload the 
stores. You don't look as if you've eaten 
for days. Did you trap the birds?" 

"Birds? No, nothing yet." Vaguely 
Johnson remembered setting the 
traps, but he had been too distracted by 
the wonder of everything to pursue the 
birds. Graceful, feather-tipped wraiths 
like gaudy angels, their crimson plum- 
age leaked its ravishing hues into the air. 
When he fixed his eyes onto them they 
seemed suspended against the sky, 
wings fanning slowly as if shaking the 
time from themselves. 

He stared a: Clvisline aware that the 

colors were separating themselves 
from her skin and hair. Superimposed im- 
ages of herself, each divided from the 
others by a fraction of a second, 
blurred the air around her, an exotic plum- 
age that sprang from her arms and shoul- 
ders. The staid reality that had trapped 
them all was beginning to dissolve. 
Time had stopped and Christine was 
ready to rise into the air. ... He would 
teach Christine and the child to fly. 

"Christine, we can all learn." 

"What, Johnson?" 

"We can learn to fly. There's no time 
anymore— everything's too beautiful for 

"Johnson, look at my watch." 

"We'll go and live in the trees, Chris- 
tine. We'll live with the high flowers. . . ." 
He took her arm , eager to show her the 
mystery and beauty of the sky people 
they would become. She tried to protest 
but gave in, humoring Johnson as he led 
her gently from the beach house to the 
wall of inflamed flowers. Her hand on the 
radio transmitter in the inflatable, she sat 
beside the crimson lagoon as Johnson 
tried to climb the flowers toward the sun. 
Steadying the child within her, she 
wept for Johnson, only calming herself 
two hours later when the siren of a na- 
val cutter crossed the inlet. 

"I'm glad you radioed in," the U.S. Na- 

"These guys are okay. It's the ones who shave that deplete the ozone layer. 

vy lieutenant told Christine. "One of the 
birds reached the base at San Juan. We 
tried to keep it alive but it was crushed 
by the weigh; or is own vvrgs. Like every- 
thing else on this island." 

He pointed from the bridge to the jun- 
gle wall. Almost all the overcrowded can- 
opy had collapsed into the lagoon, leav- 
ing behind only a few of the. original 
palms with their bird traps. The blos- 
soms glowed through the water like thou- 
sands of drowned lanterns. 

"How long has the freighter been 
here?" An older civilian, a government 
scientist holding a pair of binoculars, 
peered at the riddled hull of the Pros- 
pero. Below the beach house two sail- 
ors were loading the last of Christine's 
stores into the inflatable. "It looks as if 
it's been stranded there for years." 

"Six months," Christine told him. She 
sat beside Johnson, smiling at him en- 
couragingly. "When Captain Johnson re- 
alized what was going on he asked me 
to call you." 

"Only six? That must be roughly the 
life cycle of these new species. Their cel- 
lular clocks seem to have stopped — 
instead of reproducing, they force-fed 
their own tissues, like those giant fruit 
thai contain no seeds. The life of the in- 
dividual becomes the entire life of the 
species." He gestured toward the Im- 
passive Johnson. "That probably ex- 

ciains oui fiend's al'.sred time sense — 
greai blocks of memory were coalesc- 
. ing in his mind, so that a ball thrown in- 
to the air would never appear to 
land. ..." A tide of dead fish floated 
past the cutter's bow, the gleaming bod- 
ies like discarded costume jewelry. 

"You weren't contaminated in any 
way?" the lieutenant asked Christine, 
"I'm thinking of the baby." ' 

"No, I didn't eat any of the fruit," Chris- 
tine said firmly. "I've been here only 
twice, for a few hours." 

"Good. Of course, the medical peo- 
ple will do all the tests." 

"And the island?" 

"We've been ordered to torch the 
whole place. The demolition charges are 
timed to go off in just under two hours, 
but we'll be well out of range. It's a pity, 
in a way." 

"The birds are still here," Christine 
said, aware of Johnson staring at the 

"Luckily, you've trapped them all." 
The scientist offered her the binoculars. 
'Those organic wastes are hazardous- 
God knows what might happen if human 
beings were exposed to long-term con- 
tact, All sorts of sinister alterations to the 
nervous system — people might be hap- 
py to stare at a stone all day," 

Johnson listened to them talking, glad to 
feel Christine's hand in his own. She was 

watching him with a quiet smile, aware 
that they shared the conspiracy. She 
would try to save the child, the last frag- 
■ment of the experiment, and he knew 
that if it survived it would face a fierce 
challenge from those who feared it 
might replace th.em. 

But the birds endured. His head had 
cleared., end he remembered the visions 
that had given him a brief glimpse of an- 
other, more advanced world. High 
above the collapsed canopy of the for- 
est he could see the traps he had set, 
and the great crimson birds sitting on 
their wings. At least they could carry the 
dream forward. 

Ten minutes later, when the inflatable 
had been winched onto the deck, the cut- 
ter set off through the inlet. As it 
passed the western headland the lieu- 
tenant helped Christine toward the cab- 
in. Johnson followed them, then 
pushed aside the government scientist 
and leapt from the rail, diving cleanly in- 
to the water. He struck out for the shore 
a hundred feet away, knowing that he 
was strong enough to climb the trees 
and release the birds, with luck a mat- 
ing pair who would take him with them 
in their escape from time. DO 

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cycle the refrigerator when its lifetime 
is over. Put a recycling system in your 
car air conditioner. You keep on nib- 
bling away, making CFCs more unneces- 
sary. However, it's not yet clear CFCs 
are breaking down the ozone layer. The 
oceans are filled with seaweed full of 
organic bromine and chlorine that ap- 
pear to decay and damage the ozone 
layer, too. 

We don't know that 99;9 percent of 
the ozone layer damage isn't due to 
natural sources. 

Omni: Won't that rampant pollution 
catch up with us? 

Ames: People will have to start thinking 
more long-term. When somebody 
buys a fridge, they're not willing to 
buy one that costs a hundred dollars ex- 
tra because it has insulation, even 
though it'll save live hundred dollars in 
energy costs over the appliance's life- 
time. The country should arrange in- 
centives so that people will invest in 
things like that. 

Currently, regulatory agencies give 
utilities profits based on how much 
electricity they sell. It's crazy. They 
should be giving utilities profits when 
people conserve energy. We can save 
a lot of energy. Conservation of energy 
is the best thing the environmentalists 
can recommend. 

The best way to give rats cancer is 
to feed them extra calories. Cutting cal- 
ories by thirty percent almost doubles 
their life expectancy, and their cancer 
rate goes way down. Too much fat is 
bad for you; obesity is bad for you. 

People shouldn't worry about minus- 
cule risks. Life expectancy is getting 
longer. Cancer rates aren't going up ex- 
cept for smoke-induced cancer. The 
best advice for a long life is to do what 
your mother told you; Eat a balanced 
diet. Don't drink too much; don't 
smoke at all. Eat lots of fruits and veg- 
etables: They're very good for you de- 
spite the fact that they're full of small 
amounts of natural carcinogens. 
Omni: In the early Seventies, your dis- 
covery of the mutagenicity of some 
man-made chemicals helped tighten 
regulations governing their use. You 
were the darling of the environmental 

Ames: At the time, all of us in the field 
felt that since there were all these new 
chemicals coming in, we should give 
them a hard look. So we started test- 
ing man-made chemicals and found 
many to be carcinogens. Everybody got 
scared. But when people tested natu- 
ral chemicals, they found just as many 

Now we've learned a lot more about 
cancer and are more skeptical about 
extrapolation from high to low doses. 

We understand more about the body's 
natural defenses. But some people are 
■ still stuck in the ideas of ten to fifteen 
years ago. 

Everything in life is full of one-in-a- 
hundred-thousand risks. For some can- 
cers there are one-in-a-hundreo risks. 
So if the EPA is spending all its time 
trying to protect the public against one- 
in-a-million hypothetical risks— which it's 
doing to a large extent — then it's spend- 
ing its time on trivia. Certainly there are 
reasons for not having every chemical 
company dump its garbage out the 
back door, but that's a different matter. 
We should have reasonable rules but 
not spend a high percentage of the 
GIMP trying to eliminate that last bit of 

We're spending eighty billion dollars 

a year trying to control pollution. Al- 
though much of this is useful, I think it 
will have little influence on public 
health. And we're spending only eight 
billion dollars a year on all the science 
in the United States. 

Our lab working on three or 
four risks that might be one-in-a-hun- 
dred risks. The EPA is trying to prevent 
one-in-a-million risks. The answers that 
will improve public health are likely to 
come from scientific research, not reg- 
ulatory agencies. 

Omni: Why have the environmentalists 
turned on you? 

Ames: They don't seem to want to 
know what the scientific community as 
a whole thinks. 

They seem to go to one end of the 
opinion spectrum and exaggerate it. Per- 

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J 161 W. 72nd St. {Der. Col 6 

haps because they have incentives to 
scare people: to get power and more 
members. The attitude too often seems 
to be, You people in industry are work- 
ing tor greed, and we're working for vir- 
tue, and we know better. Feeling virtu- 
ous is a tremendous motivation. The 
idea that "we're out for the good of 
humanity and industry is working for 
greed" gets a lot of mileage. That's 
what drove the socialists. And it was all 

Omni: When you say environmentalists, 
does that include the Natural Resourc- 
es Defense Council? 
Ames: Yes, they're one of the worst, 
Omni: Are some environmentalists will- 
ing to listen to you? 
Ames: I'm an environmentalist. Every- 
body's an environmentalist. We'd all 
like to see less air pollution and a more 
healthy public. Nobody wants the world 
to warm up. It's just a question of trade- 
offs and how you get from A to B. 
Omni: Why did you agree to testify 
against Tris? 

Ames: The government made a rule 
that kids' pajamas could not be sold un- 
less they contained a flame retardant. 
Of course, they hadn't done any test- 
ing on the flame retardant. They just 
wanted something that wouldn't burn 
due to excessive C0 3 . They might 
have been happy with everyone in an 
asbestos nightshirt. But the main rea- 

son houses catch on fire is that parents 
have some beers and fall asleep with 
a cigarette burning. Putting kids in as- 
bestos nightshirts is not the way to 
solve that. I'm not sure I necessarily fa- 
vored a ban on Tris, I just don't think 
it's the government's job to coerce par- 
ents into putting their kids into pajamas 
laden with flame retardants they'd nev-" 
er tested. 

Omni: In your ranking of various can- 
cer risks, one you've rated fairly high is 
air in mobile homes. Why? 
Ames: You breathe in twenty thousand 
quarts of air a day. You drink one 
quart of water a day. So if there's a 
part per million in the air and in the wa- 
ter, you're going to get many times 
more from the air. In a factory, if 
there's a chemical in the air, a worker 
breathing it in can get a pretty big 
dose in a day. It's pretty hard to poi- 
son yourself with water. The little bit of 
formaldehyde from the insulation in mo- 
bile homes can be a problem because 
you breathe in a lot of air. 
Omni: Since that time you've drifted sci- 
tiniilically and ideologically away from 
the environmental groups. 
Ames: Some of the ones I know are so- 
cialists. ! tend to believe in markets. 
With the right incentives with choice 
and competition, you're better off in 
everything. In any case, people on the 
Left tend to distrust business, especially 

if it's making a profit. They tend to be 

distrustful of industry producing pollu- 
tion. My view is that we should charge 
industry for producing pollution, rather 
than having air and water free. 
Omni: What risks are you working on? 
Ames: We're doing work on antioxidant 
and folic acid deficiencies and other di- 
etary imbalances. One reason people 
are not getting enough of these is 
they're not eating enough fruits and veg- 
etables. Folic acid deficiencies cause 
chromosome breaks. We're working on 
several other things, but I do.n't want to 
talk about them until we know more. 
Omni: Were you wrong when you 
agreed with the "one-molecule" theory, 
the concept that ingesting one mole- 
cule of a mutagen could cause muta- 
tion in an organism's cells? 
Ames: We've all learned a lot since 
then. Every cell in your body is filled 
with hundreds of thousands of mole- 
cules of carcinogens, just naturally. The 
one-molecule theory isn't even true for 
radiation. You can give a human cell lit- 
tle doses of radiation and it becomes 
resistant to high doses. For many chem- 
icals, such as saccharin, it's the high 
dose itself that's causing the cancer, 
not the chemical at any dose. I 
wouldn't be where I am in science if I 
weren't always questioning myself and 
rethinking assumptions. 

So is that ab.out it? I'd like to- get 
back to my lab. I'd really like to solve 
aging before my neurons go out. 
Omni: Is thatwhy you're so pressed for 

Ames: Well. I'm working on things that 
are real risks to the public. And I don't 
like to take away from that. 
Omni: In the preface to one of your pa- 
pers you describe your field, genetic tox- 
icology, in Dante-esque terms as being 
in the "dark wood" of its development. 
Is that still true? 

Ames: The science has been pretty 
murky. What causes cancer is not an 
easy problem. We thought DNA dam- 
age was (he whole story, but it's turn- 
ing out to be only part of it. One thing 
we can be optimistic about is that life 
expectancy is going to get longer fast- 
er — because there are so many good 
scientists all over the world working on 
the problem. Every good-sized country 
that becomes rich, like Japan, contrib- 
utes another hundred thousand scien- 
tists. South Korea's starting to contrib- 
ute scientists. So there are more and 
more people interacting, processing 
this knowledge and turning up things. 
Life is changing faster and faster, and 
that's what people are a little nervous 
about. They want to go back to a life 
they remember when they were young. 
But I'm a believer in progress. A few hun- 
dred years ago, even royalty led short 
lives. Now just about anybody in the de- 
veloped world can have a long, happy 
life if they don't do themselves in. DO 

tible to biochemical attack through wa- 
ter supplies, agricultural products, or 
food processing plants. 

Nor does an escalating biochemical 
arms race take fully into account the en- 
vironmental devastation that could be 
unleashed as a result of the use of bio- 
logical agents. On a theoretical level, 
at least, perhaps the most appealing bi- 
ological weapons are those that can be 
tailored to reside in common bacterium, 
especially bacteria that are common to 
human physiology. 

Design and produce, for example, a 
toxic bacterium that lives quite comfort- 
ably in the human stomach. Because 
the cause for which you fight is "just," 
tailor the organism so that it can re- 
produce. Use it against your enemy, 
As the weapon wreaks its havoc, it al- 
so makes more weapons, a vicious cy- 
cle necessary to ensure victory for 
your cause. 

But isn't there a flaw in that argu- 
ment? Isn't there the possibility that the 
multiplying weapon will wend its way 
back behind your own lines, attacking 
your own population? 

There may be a way around that. 
Target your weapon to attack and kill 

only specific genetic signatures. That 
way you can eliminate whole ethnic 
. groups, without worrying too much 
that your attack will backfire. 

None of these weapons exist yet, 
and they may never be produced. Ge- 
netic research is costly and complex, 
it's one thing to Imagine a designer 
weapon, qui.te another to design and 
build it. It may in fact be easier to build 
nuclear weapons than to tailor genetic 
bombs. Many scientists feel that highly 
sophisticated genetic weapons will re- 
main theoretical concepts rather than 
battlefield tools. On the other hand, it 
might well be easier to build a large arse- 
nal of biochemical agents than a huge 
nuclear stockpile. 

More likely, though, is a scenario in 
which traditional biochemical weap- 
ons — toxic gases or diseases such as 
anthrax— are enhanced in the labora- 
tory, made more powerful and harder 
to stop. 

Research into the enhancement of 
known toxins and biological agents is 
widespread today and will spread far- 
ther tomorrow. 

Virtually every developed nation is cur- 
rently funding research in areas .that 
can easily be adapted to produce weap- 
ons. Much of that research is justified 
as necessary for defensive purposes, 
or even as medical science. 

"How do you know what's going on 
in a biological research center?" says 
H. J. McGeorge. "Most nations have doz- 
ens of them. How do you know if some- 
one is doing biological research on a 
disease in order to find a cure for that 
disease, or if they are trying to figure 
out how to package' that disease?" 
This conundrum has haunted all at- 
tempts to arrive at a comprehensive 
ban on biological and chemical weap- 
ons research. 

And so a new arms race seems 
about to burst into full bloom, even 
as we discuss the abandonment of 
the nuclear standoff. Pandora's box 
gapes once more, with chemical and 
biological weapons pouring out. Be- 
cause of their nature, these modern 
plagues may prove harder to stop and 
more difficult to ban than any weapons 
previously emp loyed . 


From 1968 to 1980, the CIA recorded 
22 terrorist incidents around the world 
in which "exotic pollutants," including 
chemical, radiological, and biological 
materials, were used. Apparently none 
involved weapons per se, and they 
accounted for a very small fraction of 
all terrorist acts during that period. Of 
these incidents, most occurred in 1978 

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and involved the injection of mercury in- 
to Israeli and Spanish citrus fruit. Dis- 
covered throughout Europe, the poi- 
soned fruit caused injury and illness. No 
one died. 

But, inspired by the panic these in- 
cidents had caused, terrorists — not to 
mention misfits, lunatics, and extortion- 
ists — knew they had stumbled on afor- 
midable new instrument of political co- 
ercion and intimidation. 

Bolstered oy early successes, terror- 
ists soon returned and added fresh vic- 
tims. In the spring of 1985, scores of 
SmithKline Beecham's (formerly Smith- 
Klhe Beckmar) Contac, Tedrin, and Di- 
etac capsules were contaminated with 
warfarin, an anticoagulant and the ac- 
tive ingredient in rat poison. (Johnson 
& Johnson's Tylenol capsules had also 
been tampered with, causing several 
deaths.) A few days later, not surpris- 
ingly, the U.S. and British press report- 
ed a sharp rise in copycat threats. 
Most were hoaxes. Many were not. In 
March 1985, perhaps as much as 
24,000 pints of Northern Dairies (UK) 
brand milk was contaminated with gas- 
oline. The adulteration was discovered 
only after tainted milk had been distrib- 
uted to three communities. Miraculous- 
ly, no one was injured. UK police main- 
tain the contamination was deliberate. 

A new high in perversion, ingenuity, 
and sophistication marked the celebrat- 
ed court appearance of two followers 
of Guru Bhagwan Shree Rajneesh in 
1986. Sheela Patel and Diana Onang 
were accused of attempting to influ- 
ence a county election in Oregon by in- 
fecting four restaurants in the town of 
The Dalles with the bacterium Salmo- 
nella typhi. Onang, a Filipino nurse, man- 
ufactured S. typhi in a laboratory that 
the cult maintained on its Oregon 
ranch. Patel and Onang pleaded guilty 
to attempted murder and tampering 
with consumer products. 

Terrorism is the ultimate psychologi- 
cal weapon. Like a rattlesnake, it first 
uses noise, and if intimidation fails, it 
strikes. Growing political convulsions 
around the world, the relative ease 
with which chemical weapons can be 
produced, and the advent of genetic en- 
gineering have reawakened fears of a 
new type of one-two punch assault on 
food, medicine, drinking water, and 
crops. There is even talk of "ethnic 
specific" biochemical agents "pro- 
grammed'' to disable certain races. 

The Public Safety Group of ■Wood- 
bridge, Virginia, which has recorded at 
least 250 incidents involving the threat 
to use, or actual use of, biochemical 
agents — including salmonella and tula- 
remia— has disclosed that the German 
Red Army Faction and the French Ac- 
tion Directe were once involved in the 
preparation of botulin, a toxin thai 
causes acute and somefimes fatal 
food poisoning. 

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Total Number of Books - 

X $8 each equals . 

Sales Tax (NC. NJ. NY 
residents add 

appropriate sales tax) 

Shipping and Handling 
($2.00 each book, 

$6.00 foreign) 

Total Enclosed 

Hail this entire coupon I 
c/o CCC 

2500 McCleilan Ave. 
Pennsauken, NJ 08109 

There has been and continues to be, 
in contravention of U.S. rules, much re- 
search involving genetic manipulation. 
Designer genes are spliced to alter a 
harmless organism by making it lethal, 
to increase the lethality of other orga- 
nisms, and to produce organisms 
resistant to diseases such as chole 
Reliable sources have told Omni that 
a clandestine laboratory on a yacht 
plying the waters off the coast of 
Algeria may now be producing un- 
disclosed toxins, ostensibly for use by 
Algerian terrorists. 

Could this happen closer to home? 
Could aitempts be made to poison our 
water supplies, to turn golden grains in- 
to deadly crops, to saturate a large ur- 
ban center with fast-spawning, virulent 
microbes? Unlikely. 

Although the means exist to do so un- 
der controlled lab conditions, the 
amount ot an agent needed, say, to in- 
fect a reservoir or contaminate basic sta- 
ples would have to be astronomically 
high. To sow the seeds of panic and to 
reap the fruits of paranoia, as we have 
seen, is easier, Terrorists have honed 
the practice to an art, The biochemical 
connection broadens the menace and 
adds to the vulnerability. DQ 


e 6 top left: DHo-<ah H. -;;..vfer -izcf-y~\a-!: 
98S page 6 top right: Psi'ic.-; 
ltur or/Ga-nrra-Lia sc-x page 6 bottom ce 
Anita Kunz- page ID: I -go lA.varh/Magnu 
?'-■:*:*. page 14: „o--- :;■,.,- page 16 clack- 
wise from top left: John Stuart, Johr 

; : ?::i"i 5 

42: -■-:- 


< 24: 

andos- page 25: A. Nogues 
. B: 5a -io 1 1 ::.'-■ "o^hs^ =iosoar;;li;'- page 30:. on- -,:,:, ,-.--; psge33: :--r 
David Tumley/Detrc i rre? Press/Slack Bia-. 
page 34: Randee Si i\ colas fiisa; page 35 
irtin Dohrn.'Pho!.:! Rssira'onors page 35 
: 7AN page 3S top: D:-,- 
McCoy: page 36 bottom: Dr. R. Roberl Robblns/ 
' 'siB.ty O' ISias; page 3S top: Stephen Dal- 
imrreis A.-ina:s. page 38 bottom: John Ro- 
Gt Photo Agency: page 40 top: Gary M 
3. page 40 bottom: Donna Day: page 

Joriss-'Gr.'-riL-; _.; iii i page 44 tap left: 

■ . page 46: Brown 3ror.(;;s 
Brcrinings: page 51: Zigy Kale 
52 top: Jans brann ng/. page 5: 

■■■ Ka!u/.-y page S5: -',-?r'v;,; ; ; ; . 

C7 "■■'■s;';: page 66: Debo-sh ; 

eiHanan 1«90: page 67top: r " 

5 page 67 center: W.J. Dicti,s, 
■.:■=:;,■■,■: page 69 top: Debaiah 

page 71 bottom right: Przc-my. 
iBwicz.Dosc-ra." R. R)«lc.' 1990 | 
ter left: Deoorah R. Fowler, Prezem 
z 1989. page B9: Joanic St 
James Marsh: page 91: S 
page l14-115:clockwise from t 
P'OcLclions. Franklin. ZAN Produclk 

: . page 118 top: s;,Ninto,-ido o 
ijir.iwfton. Inc.. page 118botto 
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"A wonderful and profound book." 

Proponents of artificial intelligence 
argue that eventually a computer 
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Washington Post Book World 
His extraordinary, compellingly 
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that laws more wondrously 
complex than those of quantum 
mechanics govern the workings 
of the human mind. 
'Ranks among the most 
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| in the last forty years." 
a — Timothy Ferris. 
#1 New York Times Book Review 

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Does changing time 
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Battling monsters or becoming God is easier than choosing 

the most outstanding video games 

Last year saw a turning pom: 
in video game technology — a 
decisive decline, of the .eight- 
bit Nintendo Entertainment Sys- 
tem (NES) and the rise of a 
new generation, of upscale. 16- 
bit game systems with superi- 
or sound, graphics, and sophis- 
tication. A few Nintendo car- 
tridges rose to the' top-, but .over-. 
all, the hottest video games of 
1990. were created -tor the Se- 
ga Genesis and the NEC Tur- 
boGrafx-CD Player. 

Genesis achieved an early 
lead inthe electronic market- 
place, but the NEC Turbo- 
Grafx-CD conveyed a videos 
game vision of the future with 
incomparable, compact disc 
musical scores, spoken dia- 
logue, and rich graphics. 

Also, because the portable 
TuTjoGrafxExc'-esp uses the 
same cartridges- as the Tur- 
boGrafx-CD, NEC became the 
first' video game- company to 
take superior at-home game 
quality "on the road." 

YEAR: Super Mario Brothers 3 (Nintendo for NES), Sure, 
i;'s just another jump-and-dodge platform game, but Su- 
per Mario Brothers 3. is done to perfection and- probably 
the most influential and widely loved -video game since 
the heyday of Pac-Man. ' -. 

THE BEST ARCADE GAME: Castlevania 3: Dracula's 
Curse (Konami for NES) claims some of the' best graph- 
ics ever-to appear in a Nintendo cartridge. As. the change- 
ling hero, you become involved in nonstop action as well 
as an intriguing supernatural story line. 

THE BEST SHOOTER: Monster Lair (NEC forTurboGrafx- 
CD). -On the face of it, Monster Lair is just more of the 
same; colorful monsters, unusual weapons, a cartoonish 
"little man" who dodges an army of evildoers: But this lit- 
tle man hops to a great California jazz-style musical 
score-that adds immense appeal to his arcade 'action. 
Even if I didn't like the game itself, Monster Lair would 
make my charts for its terrific music. 

GAME:. Ys Book 1 & 2 (NEC for 
TurboGrafx-CD). With a majes- 
tically atmospheric score, beau-, 
tiful graphics, spo ken narration, ■ 
and 'fast-paced MTV-like edit- 
ing, Ys Book 1 & 2(commoniy 
known as The Ancient Land of 
Ys) starts like an interactive mu- 
sic video. The game that fol- 
lows is a fascinating, mind- 
twisting role-playing game of 
epic length, not quite as opu- 
lent as its introductory se- 
quence but no less involving. 
Klax (Tengen for NES, Gene- 
sis, Lynx, TurboGrafx-CD) is 
Tefrisfor the Nineties. Colored 
tiles ride down a conveyor 
belt and drop into a hopper. 
Catch them,. rearrange them, 
and create horizontal, Vertical, 
and diagonal patterns for big 
points. It sounds less than thrill- 
ing-, but just give it five minutes 
and it's .all over, buddy. You'll 
be there tor the next two 
hours. The best versions are 
for Genesis and Lynx. 
THE BEST STRATEGY GAME: Populous (Electronic 
Arts for Genesis). One of 19B9's best computer games 
became a video game in 1990, a thinker's game that 
translated perfectly to the graphics quality of Genesis, 

THE BEST SPORTS-GAME: Super Monaco GP (Sega 
for Genesis), Here's a real Genesis showcase, and one 
of the finest, driving games ever released. Not only do the 
point-of-view visuals trans' late perfectly to the'home sys- 
tem, but the addition of a championship mode adds 
breadth and strategy to this pedal-to-the-metal actione'r. 
ture (NEC for TurboGrafx-CD) isn't punishing; it's enchant- 
ing. It isn't brutal; it's inviting.. And its charm is reinforced 
by clever cartoon graphics and humorous animation. 
There may have been bigger, harder,' faster' video chal- 
lenges in 1990, but nothing can beat, this terrific arcade 
game for sheer fun. Coming next month: the best com- 
puter games of 1990.— Bob LindstromDQ 



Wet your whistle with these mixed-up drinks, then create 

your own recipes in Competition #52 

Bartending, you might think. 
is a pretty easy job. Just 
keep the glasses filled and 
be ready with a few sym- 
pathetic comments about 
the Cubs' chances next 
year.' But a good mixologist 
also has to know a great 
many drink names and reci- 
pes — and be ableio recall 
them like a computer retriev- 
ing long-lost iiles ""hers 
are words- with specialized 
meanings — like up, draw, 
neat, arid sweet— and all 
those brand names and nick- 
names that swirl around the 
brain like a cockeyed cock- 
tail, shaken not stirred. A bar- 
tender who is just learning 
the terms must have dreams 
about meeting people with 
names like Margarita Alexan- 
der, Harvey Collins, and 
Tom Wallbanger. 

Drink names, of course. 
have always had a color- 
ful side: Rusty Nail, Side 
Car, Velvet Hammer, Sin- 
gapore Sling; and Zombie, 
tor example. Lately they 
seem to have gotten weirder 
and even downright raun- 
chy: Kamikaze, Vulcan Mind 
Press, 'Sex on the Beach, 
Screaming Orgasm. For the 
customer, the problem 
with these drinks is getting 
up the nerve to ask for 
them with a straight face. 

AH this naturally leads to 
yet another joke for-r . There 
have been knock-knock 
jokes, good news/bad news 
jokes, elephant jokes, and 
light bulb joke's. Now there's 
the mixed-up drink joke. For 
example: What do you get 
when you mix vodka and or- 
ange juice, then add a dose 
of milk of magnesia? A Phil- 
lips' Screwdriver, of course. 

If you mix gin, lemon 

120 OMNI 

juice, and club soda you get 

a Tom Collins; but what do 

you get by adding a smear 

of mascara and a pound'Of 

wrinkle-remover cream? A ■ 

Joan Collins. Other mixed- 

up drinks inc utie Tequila 

Mockingbird (Jose Cuervo 

and bi'dseed) and Alexan- 


der hlsig (brandy, scotch, 


and milk). 


1 first introduced the mixed- 


up drink jpke a few years 


ago in another magazine 


and asked readers to submit 

■ 'zr"~ ■ 

their' own examp e->. Among 

•Li&dZ'S' "'"'■'"''' 

the best (and. cleanest) 

^n ,. 

ideas: Bloody Awful: vodka 

?* "' gflEHB* 1 

and ketchup; Hickory 


Daiquiri Duck: aged Ken- 

■-■"..**«££ ^^^ 

tucky bourbon, rum, straw- 
berries, crushed ice, and 

Hazelnut liquor, 

Cold Duck; Cocoa Vih: Nes- 



tle's chocolate and Ch'ablis; 

crushed saltines, and 

Little Dickens: A martini 


Create your own originai 

with -an. "olive or twist"; Fra- 


Beer and nitrous oxide 

mixed-up drinks and submit 

ternal Twins: Crown Royal 


Mead, goat's milk, and 

them in Competition #52. 

and Royal Crown; Absinthe 

Southern Comfort 

Our grand prize-winner will 

of Malice: Pernod and bit- 


Schnapps' and rice wine 

receive S100; nine.runners- 

ters; Truth and Justice: sodi- 


Beefeater's and Grizzly 

up will each receive $25. All 

um Pentotha! on the rocks. 


finalists will also get a copy 

If you w 

of my book The Emperor 



with more than two or 

Who Ate the Bible arid Other 

Once the ingredients are list- 

three names for these drinks, 

Strange Facts and Useless 

ed, some of the best mixed- 

try matching the recipes 

Information (Doubleday). 

up drinks-are so self-ev dent 

with these names: 

Enter as often as you 

that a little thought should 


Peppermint Paddy 

wish, but each entry must 

easily bring the name to -. 


Beam me up, Scotty 

be mailed separately on a 

mind. How many of the follow- 



postcard (or on a three- by 

ing drinks can you identify? 


.Glow worm 

five-inch sheet of paper). 


Manhattan Project 

Send them to Competition 

1 . Geritol and tomato, juice 


Near Miss 

#52: Drinks,. c/o Omni, 1965 

2. Bourbon, sweet ver- 


Nutcracker Sweei 

Broadway, New York, NY 

mouth, and heavy water- 


Piltd.own Comforter 

10023-5965. All entries must 

s'. Jim Beam, 7-Up, and 


Gin and Beer It 

be received by March 15, 



Shirley Temple Black 

1 991 , and become the prop- 

4. Lamp oil and mescal 


.357 Magnum ■ 

erty of Omni magazine; 

5. Ginger ale, grenadine, 


Tired Bloody Mary 

none will, be returned. Win- 

and India ink 

ners will be chosen on the 

6. Near beer and/Swiss 

basis of .cleverness and 

Miss chocolate 

\-ZV 'V-U 'H-OL '0-6 

originality, and the judge's 

1., Champagne and gun- 

'0-9 'M-Z 'd-9 T-S-'C-P 

■decisions are final. 


a-E '3-2 'Tl. :sjbmsuv 

— Scot Morris DO 



Looking for help in multicolored swirls of 

Quaker State and Valvoline 

Page after page, The Har- 
monic Yellow Pages, 
billed as "the Complete 
Guide to New Age Health," is full 
of listings for psychics, healers, 
gurus, and other purveyors of spiri- 
tual enrichment — including exter- 
minators. One such firm, Roach- 
es Reincarnated, Inc., advertises 
with the slogan: "Out of your life — 
and into another." 

According to The Harmonic Yel- 
low Pages, the New Age has ar- 
rived at all sorts of established en- 
terprises, ranging from farms to 
factories. The Good Time Watch 
Company, for example, has 
changed its motto from "Stay on 
Time" to "Be Here Now." 

Receiving my own copy of the 
yellow pages, I randomly opened 
the book, whirled myself around 
to get dizzy, covered my eyes, 
and plunked my right index finger 
down on the page. My finger land- 
ed upon a small ad that read, 
"Rainbows in the Gutter — Sylvia 
O'Peck will read your motor oil drip- 

Helen McKenna 
has a '66 
Mustang con- 
vertible thai 
routinely leaks 
its power 
steering fluid 

her driveway. 

pings." Curious, I picked up the 
phone. The Gutter Guru, as she 
is known by her clients, gracious- 
ly agreed to meet with me in her 
comfortable Beverly Hills home. 

Sylvia, who appeared to be 
around forty-five, greeted me in 
a tie-dyed bikini and Birken- 
stocks, smudged with oil around 
the edges. As we sat by the pool 
and ate shrimp cocktails, she ex- 
plained the scientific basis for the 
rainbow that appears in spots of 
motor oil on streets after it rains. 

"It's the same principle as rain- 
bows in the sky," Sylvia said. 
"Light refraction and reflection. 
The oil leaves a film on the water. 
Light rays come down and hit the 
oil and bend. As they bend, they 
reveal different colors of the spec- 
trum. Every rainbow is different. 
This is where my interpretation 
comes in." Pressed for more de- 
tails, she explained that her work 
is "just like reading tea leaves, but 
I'm dealing with petroleum and 
there's no teacup." 

For $359.95, Sylvia comes to 
your home and reads the oil 
spots in your gutter. You need not 
be present, but Sylvia must have 
your exact address, as you 
wouldn't want your neighbor's 
reading, of course. 

Each client gets a two-part read- 
ing. Part one is holistic and re- 
veals the state of your health, in- 
cluding your gallbladder, kidneys, 
and sinuses, as well as your spir- 
itual well-being, vocational apti- 
tudes, and financial future. Part 
two shows the condition of your 
car, including the drivetrain, cool- 
ing system, and rocker panel mold- 
ing. This is guaranteed for 30,000 
miles or 30 days, whichever 
comes first. 

For those lucky clients whose 
oil spots are on their driveways, 
and not in the gutter, Sylvia 
throws in an additional compli- 
mentary reading on the condition 
of the driveway. (Sylvia's brother- 
in-law, it turns out, happens to 
repair driveways.) 

"I saw my first oil rainbow on 
the mean streets of Newark," 
Sylvia told me. "Itwasfromanold 
Packard with a real bad oil leak." 
As a small child, Sylvia was poor 
and spent a lot of time on the 
streets. After it rained, she'd sit on 
the curb and stare for hours at the 
oil rainbows in the gutter. "I 
found my rainbow in the gutter," 
she said. 

That convinced me to give it a 
try and I handed Sylvia my Visa 
card. "We don't need to wait for 
rain," she said as she poured her 
scotch and water on the oil spot 
my car had left in her driveway. 

She pondered the glossy slick 
for a moment. Then she told me 
that my glove compartment door 
needed adjusting and that I 
would live a long and happy life, 
but that I should watch the traffic 
around Anaheim. 

Returning to the patio, she 
popped another jumbo shrimp in- 
to her mouth and said, "Gutters 
have a bad reputation. But look 
where my curbside contemplation 
got me. Who says oil and water 
don't mix?" 

She went on to brag that at 
some of the most chic parties 
from Bel Air to Malibu, Carmel to 
Pismo Beach, Petaluma to Camp 
Pendleton, people are excitedly 
discussing their latest motor oil 
rainbow readings. 

Sylvia now offers group rates 
for such gatherings, although 
you're advised not to participate 
if you came in a rented lima; your 
reading may be confused with 
that of the previous user. 

And there's good news for the 
rest of the country: Sylvia and a 
major oil company have been ne- 
gotiating a franchise deal. Be on 
the lookout for a white van with a 
rainbow-hued oil spot airbrushed 
on its side. When the latest meta- 
physical craze sweeps across the 
nation, automotive oil spots will no 
longer be perceived as simply ug- 
ly stains to be covered over with 
cat litter. Dd